Opinion

Let the city help make it a productive year

It is a new year and if you have made a New Year’s resolution or two, the city of Caribou can be your partner in making it your most productive year yet. If you have fitness goals, contact the wellness center about hours and programs.

If you want to set up a payment plan for 2021 property taxes, contact the city clerk’s office and inquire about the tax club. The staff in the finance department can assist with any delinquent taxes.

Do you want to make certain that you are receiving every reduction possible on your property tax bill? In addition to the homestead tax exemption, other real estate exemptions include ones for veterans over 62 years old (or are 100 percent disabled), and legally blind persons. Please contact the tax assessment department to determine your eligibility. 

Did you move to a new home since April 1, 2020? The office will need updated forms for your new address. The forms are the same for every municipality in Maine and can be printed from the tax assessment page on the City of Caribou website: www.cariboumaine.org. The filing deadline is April 1, 2021. 

If you have purchased a property in Caribou within the last 18 months, watch your mail for information on exemptions and a sales information questionnaire. Maine Revenue Service sets benchmarks for assessed values and to stay within those guidelines, municipalities must qualify sales used to develop methodology to derive values. If assessments fall out of the state’s acceptable range, it will affect the City’s certified ratio and will result in a decrease in the exemption value.  Therefore, your willingness to respond in a timely manner and provide accurate sales data is appreciated. 

If your plans for 2021 include a building project – large or small – please contact the office for questions such as “Does the project require a permit?”. If the project requires a permit the cost is $50. Before removing all or part of a structure, please obtain a demolition permit. There is no charge if obtained prior to demo. This process helps the department comply with local ordinances and state statutes regarding disposal, requirements concerning asbestos-containing materials, and gives notice to remove the taxable value when demolition is complete. There are links to the codes plus permit applications under the code enforcement department tab on the website. 

Please let me know if there have been any changes to your property. For example, if you removed a shed, deck or other outbuilding without a demo permit, I may not know to remove value from your account. Taxpayers have a responsibility to let me know if they have added an outbuilding even if a permit was not required. Business owners who have vacant commercial space should reach out too.

Having personal connections to the citizens in the Caribou community is important to me and I would like to hear your ideas of how I can deliver on my promise to provide customer service excellence, high quality information and accurate outcomes.  As always, if you have questions about permits, exemptions, or your property value, please email me at pthompson@cariboumaine.org or call me at (207) 493 – 5961 (my direct line). 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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