Mil rate, not real estate value, needs fixing

12 years ago

To the editor:

Okie Dokie, now. How has your week been? More than likely, you have received your new property valuations and estimated tax bills for 2012. I know we did, and our phone has been ringing off the hook ever since from others who have. At first glance, my husband about jumped out of his chair. The value of our property increased just about 2 1/2 times from its previous value, and his knee jerk reaction was to call the city office and request an appointment with the appraisers. I told him to look at the valuation and then I asked him if he would actually sell it for that price if he put it on the market today, and his answer was “nope.” There you go.

I do know of a few valuations that seem to be way off the mark. But, for the most part, the ones that I have seen, anyway, appear to be reasonable. I do know that businesses, farmers and landowners got hit hard. Some people are furious. By all means, if you think your appraisal is unreasonable, request a meeting with the company that did them. If you bring your concern to city administration, they will just tell you to take it to the appraisers, because city administration had nothing to do with the values of the town. And they are right. But city administration has everything to do with the mil rate that is attached to those property values. That’s what needs to be “fixed” so to speak. And that’s where you should focus your “furies.”

For instance, I’ve heard it said that some departments are out of control. Don’t blame the directors for that; be angry at the administration for allowing it to happen. And, while we are on the subject of “out of control,” have you driven through the Highway Department lot lately? We did, two weeks ago on a Sunday morning. The only word I can use to describe what we saw is “hoarders.” Now, they will tell you that this stuff is “free.” Make no mistake, it may be donated, but it certainly ain’t free! It cost the city thousands of dollars to get this stuff here, plus paint, insurance, registration, maintenance … nope, not free, and how much is really necessary? And how much more might there be that we didn’t see

Oh and there is a new building going up there, also. And, at 9 a.m. on that Sunday morning, the wash bay was wide open and the lights were on. This costs money. Your money. Don’t get angry at the director for this; focus your attention on city administration for allowing it to happen. You can view pictures of the highway department’s “inventory” on Caribouwatch.com. They should be posted within a few days.

Call your councilors, stop them on the street, send e-mails, do whatever it takes until they get the message that it is costing too much to live in Caribou! Once again, do not lose sight of the fact that it is not the value of your property that is the villain here, but the mil rate attached to it. That can be changed. That rate is set by the council based on the money requested (notice I did not say “needed”) by the city manager and department heads to run this city.

And be aware, this rate could change. The school department’s budget has not yet been factored into this rate. You will go to the polls on June 12 and vote whether or not to accept the school’s budget as presented. The passage of this budget could affect that mil rate.

Remember, the squeaking wheel gets the grease. Stay silent and nothing will ever change.

Joan Theriault, secretary
Citizens for Responsible
City Management
Caribou