We are all in this together

Lewis Cousins, Special to The County
6 years ago

As residents, business owners, councilors, managers and employees, we all have a common interest in the past, present, and future well-being of the City of Presque Isle.

The Presque Isle City Council has approved the 2018 city budget on behalf of all the above persons together. While all parties agree that property taxes are high, everyone also agrees that Presque Isle is a wonderful place to call home and/or operate a business from.  

Watching the four-month process come to fruition was enlightening, educational, frustrating, gratifying and challenging all wrapped together for those involved. The City Council, city manager, finance director, and department heads all worked together to craft a package to best  balance the needs of the folks who pay tax in the city and the services these same folks require of the City. Congratulations to everyone who created and is affected by this budget, it is a job well done.       

The Assessing Department has an important responsibility in the process, which is the discovery of all taxable real estate and personal property located in the city. In an effort to help prevent the tax rate from being higher than necessary, it is crucial that all property subject to taxation is accounted for and assessed at fair market value. The purpose is to ensure that together every property owner pays their fair share of the cost of operating the place they choose as home for living or business purposes, and no more.

As part of the discovery process, the Assessing Department relies heavily on the Code Department building permits, which are required on all new construction. Recently, city officials became aware of a very nice residential garage that had been built without a permit. Had it gone unnoticed, one property owner would have a lower tax bill, but all other taxpayers would be paying more than their fair share, which comes back to the point that we are all in this together. Folks who are not forthcoming with their taxable property are not cheating city hall. They are cheating their neighbors, friends and often family with a higher-than-necessary tax rate. They are also increasing the cost of operating a business in the city — sometimes their own.

In addition to utilizing the permits generated by the Code Department, the Assessing Department is out performing inspections throughout the city. Here again, the purpose is to ascertain that the information each property’s assessment is based upon is accurate. We do appreciate all the cooperation we get from property owners concerning these inspections.

The City currently has an assessment ratio of 94 percent, as determined by Maine Revenue Service. We anticipate this ratio to improve to 97 percent with changes made in 2017 to our pricing schedules. Taxpayers should find comfort in these results, as it does indicate that our assessment levels are doing all that they can to help keep the tax rate from increasing, while ensuring equity to all classes of properties and taxpayers.

Together, we can all work to lower the tax rate by promoting growth, ensuring that city services are delivered as efficiently as possible, ensuring that all real estate and personal property subject to taxation is reported, ensuring that building permits are obtained for all new construction, and ensuring that sales analysis and pricing schedules here in the office are kept current as the market continually evolves.

The Assessing Department is committed to ensuring that all taxpaying residents are aware of and receiving any tax relief available through the Homestead and Veterans exemptions, and that all businesses are aware of and receiving any tax relief available through the BETR and BETE programs.

As always, we encourage all taxpayers to contact the department with any questions or concerns you may have regarding the assessment of property here in the City. Visit our webpage and GIS system to view any property or assessment record in the City:


Wishing the best possible 2018 to all.

Lewis Cousins is Presque Isle’s assessor. He can be reached at 760-2714 or via email at lcousins@presqueisleme.us.