Towns describe unpaid property tax liens

CAMDEN — The largest amount of unpaid taxes in Camden is owed on Bay View Landing and other properties belonging to businessman Stuart Smith.

A lien notice filed in Knox County Superior Court against the land and buildings on Bay View Landing is for $34,449 in unpaid taxes, which were due in May 2007.

Liens represent a town’s legal interest in real estate, meaning property can be seized via foreclosure if the taxes remain unpaid.

Six additional liens for taxes totaling $48,332 were filed on the Lord Camden Inn property on Main Street, also owned by Smith. Smith owes over half of all overdue taxes in Camden.

Smith’s asset manager, Matthew Levin, said deferring property tax payments is a financial tool. Smith has taken tax deductions on a number of building improvements he has made recently. He plans to delay paying the current overdue property taxes, so he can use those payments as deductions against income in a future year.

The next highest amount of overdue taxes in Camden is $5,835 owed by Boynton-McKay Company LLC, on land and property at 30 Main St.

Overall, however, the number of property tax lien notices filed this year in Camden is down when compared with 2006. Sixty-six notices were filed this August, for a total of $175,791 due. The taxes were due in two payments, in November 2006 and May 2007. The foreclosure date for properties with unpaid taxes from this period is Feb. 17, 2009.

In 2006, 73 notices were issued, for a total of $224,823 in unpaid taxes.

LINCOLNVILLE

The number of property tax liens issued this year in Lincolnville is down from 2006.

The town sent out 47 lien notices on Aug. 10, for a total of $56,334 in uncollected taxes, according to Deputy Tax Collector Doris Weed. The liens are for taxes due from the 2006-07 fiscal year, which ended June 30.

The single largest amount of unpaid taxes is $6,841 on a residential property and is owed by Mary Welliver. Next is $6,802 owned by Crowley Investments LLC on three properties — a residence, 35 acres on Slab City Road, and property on True Road.

The third highest unpaid tax amount is $2,278 owed by Mary Lynch on the Center General Store property.

Property owners who have not paid their taxes are notified with courtesy mailings prior to the filing of liens. When the liens are filed in the Waldo County Registry of Deeds the only parties notified are the mortgage holders and owners who have recently purchased properties on which the previous owner owes taxes.

Those who owe taxes have 18 months to pay before properties are foreclosed. Notices, stating that the town will foreclose on properties within 30 days if taxes are not paid, will be mailed in January 2009.

In 2006, Lincolnville filed 65 lien notices for a total of $81,907 owed. The average number of liens filed each year for the past eight years is 63.

ROCKPORT

The number of lien notices sent out for the 2006-07 tax year is 187, compared to 157 sent out in 2005-06, according to the Rockport town office. $106,155 is the outstanding balance on liens for 2006.

Town Clerk Linda Greenlaw said generally the biggest delinquency involves timeshares at the Samoset. The resort has 3,600 timeshares and, Greenlaw said, a tax bill is sent out for each week and she thinks people just forget to pay the bill. These timeshares foreclose in February and the Samoset generally purchases them and auctions them off, the town clerk said.

The largest single amount of unpaid taxes for 2006 is $17,647, which is owed by Maine Sport, owned by Stuart Smith.

The second highest is for a home at 1 Wellington Drive, owned by David and Suzan Theriault for a total of $4,282. The third is for $4,151 for Patterson Mobile Home Park.

Oftentimes the way businesses run, the owners routinely wait to pay their tax bills, town officials said.

The town clerk said the town borrows money when it needs to and, at the same time, late taxes are charged a late fee, currently 12 percent, so taking into account what extra money is received from the late fees, it all balances out.

Finance Director Virginia Lindsey said that even if all taxpayers paid their bills on time the town would still have to borrow money, because it has bond commitments due in October, and because the town is required to pay the schools $600,000 monthly.

HOPE

A total of 166 30-day lien notices were sent out to residents for the 2006-07 tax year, and as of Aug. 14 remained unpaid for a total of $11,913, according to Hope Town Clerk Florance Merrifield.

A total of 159 liens notices were sent out for 2006-07 taxes and property owners have until December 2008 to pay.

APPLETON

According to the Appleton town office notices for tax liens totaling $96,100 were sent out for the 2006-07 tax year, while notices $73,231 were sent out for the 2005-06 tax year.

Overall, then, the number of property owners who have not paid their 2006 taxes is down in Camden, Lincolnville and Hope from the previous year, while Rockport and Appleton have seen an increase.

By Susan Milisa Mustapich & Kim Lincoln, MaineCoastNow.com

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