BANGOR- “With times being tough, we need everyone to contribute their fair share,” said City Council Ben Sprague.
The city council making that their goal…
Three years ago the council set a goal to follow up with all property owners who failed to pay property taxes for five years or more.
“It sends a terrible message to all the property owners that do pay their taxes if we’re not holding the ones that don’t accountable for not doing so,” said Sprague.
It sounds simple, but according to Councilor Sprague, the process hasn’t been easy.
“It’s hard. It’s complicated. There’s a lot of legal ramifications and it’s difficult and sometimes it requires difficult conversation, so it had kind of gotten swept under the rug for a while.”
Now fast forward three years…the council has identified 84 properties within the city that are delinquent on their taxes.
Of the 84, 22 have been paid in full and 26 have been taken by the city to be flipped back onto the market.
“I think being more proactive about it has sent the message to people that we’re going to hold them responsible. There’s going to be consequences here, so hopefully that actually encourages people to pay their taxes more proactively so we don’t actually have this problem in the future,” said Sprague.
And while the extra money helps balance the city budget, the people of Bangor are also directly benefiting from the push.
“For a variety of those properties, they’ve actually been taken by the city and sold to a new property owner who have rehabbed these properties and fixed them up. Some of them are just vacant green space which has some value in itself to the city,” said Sprague.
99 percent of property taxes have been collected in full, and the city plans to better stay on top of the issue moving forward so it doesn’t grow into a problem again.