Opinion

Building safety benefits all

Typically, all exemption and current use applications are due by April 1 of the tax year. The Governor’s declared State of Civil Emergency extends this deadline. Do not wait. Please get your exemption applications to me soon to save money on your 2021 property tax bill. 

Governor Janet Mills has proclaimed the month of May as Building Safety Month throughout the state of Maine and urges all citizens to recognize this observance. This year building safety is especially important as we continue to recover from the coronavirus pandemic. 

Building codes save lives by incorporating the latest technology and providing the safest, most resilient structures for our families and communities. The International Codes, developed by the International Code Council and adopted by the State of Maine as part of the Maine Uniform Building and Energy Code, are the most widely used and adopted set of building safety codes in the United States. 

Building Safety Month was first observed in 1980. The campaign raises awareness about critical building safety issues from structural to fire prevention, plumbing and mechanical systems, and energy efficiency. This year’s Building Safety Month campaign theme for May 2021 is “Prevent, Prepare, Protect. Building Codes Save.” The City of Caribou, a member of the International Code Council, cares about the health and safety of all citizens.  Everyone is encouraged to ask questions of staff and learn about the essential safety work of the code enforcement department.

No longer are places of residence simply family living spaces; they have taken on the role of extended work, school, gym and entertainment centers. With a greater demand to create safe cities of the future, buildings need to account for increased capacity, dangers from natural disasters and resource shortages, and a wide range of public safety concerns. Building Safety Month provides homeowners, government officials and the public with the necessary information for ensuring safety in the spaces where they live, work and learn. 

Code and building officials, plan reviewers, fire inspectors, architects, builders, engineers, design professionals, contractors and staffers in Aroostook County are among the 64,000 members of the International Code Council that created Building Safety Month. All of us work together to provide the first line of defense against building disasters and to ensure the safety of the built environment. 

Currently, your Caribou building officials, Tony Michaud and I, are participating in trainings on the energy provisions of Maine’s new building codes which take effect on July 1, when the newly adopted 2015 version of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) replaces the 2009 IECC.

Additionally, if this department has sent paperwork to you requesting more information on business equipment, exemptions, data verification or to follow up on permits, we would appreciate it if you could complete and return the forms as soon as possible. Thinking of building this summer? If you apply prior to the start of your project, a  building permit in Caribou is a flat fee of $50 and a demolition permit is free.  

Please call if you have questions — we are here to help.

As always, if you have questions about exemptions, your property’s value, permits, Building Safety Month, or anything else, please email 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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