Assessor, resident catch error in Casco property tax bill

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO — By early September, Casco’s property tax bills were in mail boxes. It was mid-October before anyone brought the error to the attention of town employees.

On Oct. 18, during a public hearing for a citizens’ signature petition, resident Eileen Tidd asked why the taxes to the municipality had increased by 19 percent.

When she studied her tax bill, the falsely-inflated percentage increase from last year’s taxes to the 2011–12 bill was disconcerting, Tidd said.

“In looking at my most recent tax bill — compared to the last three years, what stood out the most for me was the percentage that goes to the town” had jumped considerably,” Tidd said.

Casco Town Manager Dave Morton said the actual increase in the portion of taxes that goes to the Town of Casco is closer to a one percent increase.

She added she probably was not the only person in town to notice this discrepancy, by now.

Morton said, prior to her saying something, the mistake had been mentioned to him by one other person — the town’s new assessor that same morning.

The bill erroneously showed “an incredible increase in the amount” of taxes supporting the town budget, he said. For the town, the percentage of increase shown on the bill was the wrong number, Morton said, during an interview on Tuesday.

The percentages for School Administrative District (SAD) No. 61 and Cumberland County are pretty much the same as last year,” Morton said, on Tuesday.

On Oct. 19, the town’s auditor, Bruce Meadow, a certified public accountant (CPA) with HR Smith & Company Auditors showed Morton the mistake he had run across.

“He came by the office and told me,” Morton said. “He came about the information while answering questions for someone.”

Meadow heads the team of auditors doing the audit on the 2010–11 budget. The Casco Board of Selectmen recently hired HR Smith through a bidding process.

Morton said it would be too expensive to resend all the bills, especially since the incorrect information doesn’t confuse people about the amount of their bill, which is correct.

Resident Alice Darlington said the mistake was something people in the community should know about.

The first time she had heard about it was during the Oct. 19 public hearing, but she was not surprised she had skimmed past the mistake. She barely glanced at her bill, she said.

Darlington said after she received her tax bill, she looked at the amount and “set aside the bill to pay later.”

Darlington said many residents might have done the same thing as she did. If people know about the mistake now, they won’t be confused or shocked later when they take out the bill and see the number for the town’s tax percentage has increased by 19 percent, instead of the one percent it should be, she said.

As of Tuesday, the town did not have anything on its website to inform people about the incorrect information on the tax bills. Town Manager Morton said it would be a good idea to post something there.

“We’ll see about making those adjustments” to the Town of Casco website, Morton said.

Please follow and like us: