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Patten looks to sell tax-acquired properties online following cue from Van Buren

PATTEN, Maine — After the Aroostook County town of Van Buren announced it would begin to sell its tax-acquired property through online real estate site Zillow, another northern Maine town is looking to get in on the action. 

The town of Patten, located in Penobscot County near the border of Aroostook, made an amendment during its annual town meeting Friday, April 30, to allow such sales of tax-acquired property in ways other than the usual sealed bids. 

Article 41 of the town’s annual warrant was amended to remove the words “via sealed bids” from the requirements of the town to sell the property it acquires from owners who fail to pay property taxes. 

“It’s for the best value cost for the town, the best price for the process,” said Martin McCarthy, the chairman of the town’s board of selectmen. “I think we should get it out there on Zillow, advertise it, and then take the highest bidder.” 

McCarthy said he had not been aware that towns were able to sell their tax-acquired property in this way until he had seen the article in the Bangor Daily News on Van Buren’s plan to do so. 

“I had always assumed we couldn’t do that,” he said. “But as of now we can do it, so I’d like to change [this town warrant article] to allow us to sell these properties as we see fit.”

The town’s total budget for the year 2021 was $1.19 million, a slight increase from the $1.15 budget from the previous year. The town is carrying forward $180,000 in funds from the previous year, mostly from a sidewalks grant which was not applied last year. 

The town also voted to approve spending for the operation of the town’s library, which remains closed after the building was found to be not up to code. Town officials said a special town meeting would be held at a later date to determine the future planning for the library. 

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