Opinion

Where to find city information

The Caribou Municipal Building was closed for a few days in early October as a precaution and it raised thoughts about citizens who might be uncomfortable coming into the office.

This has prompted me to get the word out that much information is available at the city’s website: www.cariboumaine.org. The various departments have a page with frequently requested documents and staff are available to help navigate the information. 

For example, the tax assessment page has links to various exemption forms, a link to view the annual commitment book, transfer tax declarations, the latest versions of the tax maps and a link to search for updated property information. The code enforcement page has links to the caribou zoning ordinance, the property maintenance code, many map resources and a link to online versions of all components of the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code. 

Additionally, there is a heading called “Do I need a Permit?” which outlines what projects need a permit from DEP, the State Fire Marshal, Maine DOT — or maybe you don’t even need a building permit. If you do require a permit, the applications are online as well as helpful information that might make your project safer. After all, the department motto is: “It’s all about safety”.  

Do you know that more than 80 families have invested in a new Caribou home within the last year? With the pandemic stretching over the summer and into the fall, many of Caribou’s signature events were cancelled and it’s disappointing that our new neighbors were not able to experience a Thursdays on Sweden Street or the annual craft fair. 

One comment frequently expressed by new residents is that folks here are friendly and helpful, so thank you to all who have given the new faces something to smile about with your sincere hospitality. If you are a new families who has moved into Caribou, please know that you are warmly welcomed, and we appreciate you choosing our wonderful city as your home. As stated, the website has many resources available to help our citizens conduct business with the city. Our phones have voicemail so if you think of a random question outside business hours, you can leave a message or send an email and a member of staff will get back to you.

Caribou is fortunate to be home to many well-kept neighborhoods and bustling business districts where residents can embrace the city vision from the 2014 Comprehensive Plan of enjoying “the all-season community to work, play, grow in and call home.” 

When a property falls into a state of disrepair, it can bring down community pride. To combat the growing problem of blighted properties in Caribou, work began on a comprehensive blight Initiative. I have written about the committee’s progress during previous “Community Connections” articles and I am pleased to report that at their Sept. 21 meeting, the Caribou City Council accepted the Blight Toolkit. You can find a copy at the City of Caribou website under the “Living in Caribou” tab then select “Blight Initiative.” The Blight Toolkit 2020 is at the top of the page. Manager Dennis Marker has commented that he intends it to be a living document, and as other tools are discovered or sharpened, they will be used in the blight fight. The document features maps produced by Marker with blight data gathered by Caribou Code Enforcement Officer Ken Murchison. 

If you are wondering about what factors contribute to blight in our area and what tools are available, the document provides explanations and examples and introduces the community to the BOOST plan to combat loss in property value and homeowner satisfaction. BOOST stands for: Bylaws (framework for the blight fight), Operations (positive actions to fight blight), Outcomes (success in the blight fight), Stakeholders (partners ready to fight blight) and Tasks (the City of Caribou’s plan to win the blight fight). It is the committee’s hope that all citizens will help BOOST up Caribou’s neighborhood pride. 

If you have any questions about the blight initiative, tax assessment, or permits please call me at 207-493-5961 or send me an e-mail: pthompson@cariboumaine.org. I am grateful every day to be in your service.

Penny Thompson is Caribou’s tax assessor and building official. She can be reached at 493-5961 or pthompson@cariboumaine.org.

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