Casco assessor values town

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO — Town Assessor Renee Lachapelle said in so many words how much she values the relationship with the Town of Casco and the taxpayers she serves.

“We try to coordinate with the town’s Code Enforcement Officer the best time to have our people available to go a person’s home. That way we aren’t inconveniencing the taxpayer more than once,” Lachapelle said.

Lachapelle works for the Cumberland County Assessing Department, which is contracted out by the town.

She provided her assessing report to the Casco Board of Selectmen on Tuesday night.

“You will see any of our appraisers on your property if you have taken out a permit and are upgrading structures on your property,” she said.

“We have office hours in the town hall on Wednesday mornings. Also, we make appointments with the public on a “as needed” basis. We are always available to come to Casco,” she said.

“We have live bodies that answer the phone instead of a recorded message,” she said.

Currently, Casco’s mil rate is $15.10 per $1,000 of value. That is an increase 20 cents from 2016.

The tax due dates are Oct. 11 and April 4. The interest on late payments is seven percent, she said.

Unlike the town’s fiscal year or the calendar year, the assessment year runs from April 1 to March 31.

“Any changes in properties, we have to make sure that is added before April 1,” Lachapelle said.

Selectman Mary Fernandes asked about the increased mil rate.

“The increase in mil rate. The mil rate is derived in what it costs to run the town. You don’t have high activity and growth in the commercial sector. The mil rate is what it costs to run the town, the school budget is taking the biggest part of that,” Lachapelle said.

The town’s total valuation is $593,430,570 for 2017.

Essentially, the valuation has increased and stayed steady since the revaluation in 2013.

After the 2013 revaluation, the town’s valuation was $592,510,280. In the years since it has dropped as low as $583,669,100. There was an increase in value from last year of about $2.5 million.

Abatements — or a landowner’s appeal regarding the value of their property — have also gotten to a steady, lower number since the revaluation.

Obviously, the number of abatements from the revaluation was higher immediately after the town’s revaluation, she said. That year, there were 240 abatements, she said.

“It has stabilized. In 2014, there were 66. Last year, there were 29 abatements. That is positive,” Lachapelle said.

The five highest taxpayers in Casco are: Lawrence Gould Rev Trust, Migis lodge Realty LLC, Portland Natural Gas Transmission System, Casco Properties LLC, and Central Maine Power Company, according to Lachapelle.

Going forward, Lachapelle talked about a mapping software program that will need to be updated. She guestimated a cost of $10,000 that would be the town’s financial responsibility.

“There is a huge expense for the conversion to a new software program. I will keep you posted on any dates or if we can find something cheaper,” she said.

“This week, we are putting data onto the GIS tax maps. The tax maps are up-to-date for changes in 2017.”

But there was an error so the property maps went back to the mapping company to be corrected, she said.

The maps “should be in the town office next week with the upgrades,” she said.

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