Casco tax bills on the horizon

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO — For those people who dread opening that property tax bill — and, that includes just about everyone – it’s not in the mailbox yet.

Casco’s property tax bills will be sent out, but, that mass mailing has been delayed by about four to six weeks, according to Town Manager Dave Morton.

The reason for the tax bill postponement: The procedures necessary to complete Casco’s property revaluation are still being done, Morton said. “We have another seven to ten days to go through (the property revaluation) hearings, and do the investigative work, and make changes or not” to any property values, he said.

Vision Government Solutions, Inc. is the company that has been working on the one-year revaluation project.

After valid adjustments are made to the latest property values list, Vision will wrap up by transferring the data to the town’s computer. Then, the tax bills will be passed from Vision to Hygrade Business Group, the company that prints the bills people will receive in the mail, he said.

At this point, it is difficult to predict this year’s tax rate because the tail end of the revaluation process is still taking place, Morton said. Until Casco’s total land value is determined, a tax rate cannot be set, he said.

A property revaluation was done in Casco following the passage of a ballot measure that had been brought to the polls by a citizens’ petition. Vision Government Solutions was the company that was awarded the bid by the Casco Board of Selectmen in summer 2012. Vision began the process of valuing land by doing field work and, when allowed by owners, in-home evaluations. The project time encompassed two summers, since a percentage of Casco properties are occupied by seasonal residents.

In early September, the new property values were made public. Vision did this by mailing the information to people. Also, the property value data was available on the town’s website.

For the past two weeks, informal hearings have been taking place — which have allowed residents to meet with Vision Government employees.

“They are still rushing to get the final work completed,” which includes inputting data to the town’s accounting software, Morton said.

After all those steps have taken place, the town will be on track for the seasonal task of sending the property tax bills to the printing company.

This week, the Town of Naples sent their property tax information to the printers. So, residents in that neighboring town should be seeing those bills arrive in the mail as scheduled.

Citizens of Casco most likely won’t have a tax bill in hand until mid- to late-October, Morton said.

Still, some people have been able to calculate a guess, based on new property value information. That is data that homeowners have been digesting for a few weeks.

Morton said following a revaluation, one-third of the population will be happy with the results; one-third of the property owners will be displeased with the outcome; and, one-third of the property-owning community will pay their taxes without much comment.

According to Paul McKinney, project supervisor with Vision, overall property values went down since the last valuation. Those decreases are a reflection of current real estate market, he said. “With values going down, we don’t get as many calls,” he said.

McKinney anticipated that between 200 and 300 people would schedule an informal hearing. The reasons for this vary — from pointing out on error, to gathering more information on why certain values were assigned.

During a September meeting, Selectman Grant Plummer encouraged people to make the appointments with Vision. He urged people to schedule an informal hearing — certainly if residents had a two-bedroom home, and three bedrooms were listed on valuation; but, also to better understand what factored into the value of their property.

 

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