Naples hopes people pay personal property tax

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — After some discussion, Naples’ locally-elected public officials decided to send out the personal property tax bills.

The Naples Board of Selectmen put on hold the setting of a threshold for the amount of assessed valuation before the town starts the collection process.

If the amount of assessed value for personal property was $1,000 that would generate a $13.20 bill based on the tax rate for fiscal year 2017.

The question before the selectmen was: Is it worth it for the town to spend money to go after such a small amount of unpaid tax?

There was a motion on the floor to set the threshold at $1,000, but the motion was withdrawn in favor of waiting.

After all, those bills are going out in early September, and the deadline for payment is October. Therefore, the board can wait and see what percentage of those accounts is paid.

There is no state-set minimum valuation for generating personal property tax bills, according to Paul Binette, a long time assessor with John E. O’Donnell & Associates.

The town could produce a personal property tax bill for an assessed valuation of $100. That hypothetical tax bill would be $1.32.

Some Maine towns do set a threshold on billing. That means assessed value under a certain amount does not generate a personal property tax bill.

While the motion was still on the floor, Chairman Bob Caron II explained why he favored the town taking on the cost of mailing out bills for all accounts.

“That is the cost of doing business. You gotta mail your bills out; you gotta pay the postage,” he said. “My feeling is you set a threshold to go after people, but everyone still gets a bill,” he said.

“We are saying we hope you pay, we wish you’d pay,” Caron said.

Prior to the motion being withdrawn, Naples Town Manager Ephrem Paraschak spoke.

“What I would suggest not doing is setting the threshold for enforcement. You will broadcast it to the public,” he said. “If there is a threshold on enforcement,” some people might not pay because there is no negative outcome, he said.

“Ephrem is correct. Send out the bills. See how the collection rate comes in. Then, send a letter,” resident Jim Grattelo said.

Resident Jim Turpin said his bookkeeper has a small business in Windham. She receives a bill for approximately $15 in personal property taxes, he said. She told him that she pays the small bill because the Town of Windham sends a letter threatening to do a physical assessment of the taxable items in her business if she does not pay the bill, Turpin said.

The board did not weigh in whether or not such a tactic would work for the Town of Naples in improving the percentage of personal property tax bills that are paid.

In a few months, around October, the board will revisit the discussion of enforcement of payment on unpaid accounts.

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