Campground operators help Town of Casco
By Dawn De Busk
CASCO — On the same night that local elected officials gained some ground by getting campground operators on board with helping to enforce the payment of personal property taxes on mobile camper units, the Casco Board of Selectmen reviewed two uncollectable tax bills totaling almost $1,000.
The two camper units had been illegally moved, and the owners left no forwarding address, according to Casco Town Manager Dave Morton.
“Someone moved the old camper out; the new camper moved in” and the owners of the new camper were sent the old tax bill, Morton said. “I am sure they are nice people. But, they don’t want to pay someone else’s tax bill,” he said.
The majority of the board voted to accept the tax write-offs on the two bills: one for $450 and another for $486. Selectman Mary-Vienessa Fernandes opposed the motion to accept the tax write-offs, based on principle.
Morton said when an unpaid tax bill is written off the books, the town may continue to try to collect the debt.
“You can carry it on the books as uncollectable,” he said.
For years, the board has expressed frustration with camper owners leaving Casco without paying their personal property taxes. Tuesday night was no exception.
Prior to the vote, Selectman Calvin Nutting asked, “Rather than do this every time we come here, cannot we do it twice a year?”
Morton said that was possible, but “We bring these forward as we discover them.”
Nutting said, “It’s just a lack of enthusiasm.”
Now, the future looks promising for the town to receive the taxes owed from the owners of mobile camper units.
In September, the town manager, two of the selectmen, Fernandes and Chairman Holly Hancock sat down with the people who operate Point Sebago Resort and Crooked River Campground.
The end result is the inclusion of language to the camper contract that will require old tax bills to be brought current before the annual contract is renewed.
“The folks at Point Sebago are adding the wording. That was agreeable to Crooked River Campground as well,” Hancock said.
“We are optimistic that this will help in the future. They are adding the wording to their contracts. The lessees will not be able to renew their contracts unless the personal property tax is paid,” she said.
The other option — that all mobile camper units are removed at the end of the summer season was not as palatable to the campground operators, she said.
“They rely on that loyalty of customers,” she said.
“Both indicated they are not particularly happy to have their business names repeatedly brought into public” discussion about unpaid taxes, Hancock said. “It is not good PR for them.”
Fernandes gave a shout out of thanks to the campground representatives, Don Toms of Point Sebago Resort and Ted Beckner of Crooked River Campground “for coming up with a solution.”
Morton commented on their willingness to cooperate with the town.
“They were anxious to sit down at table and work with us and come up with something that works,” he said.