Piscataquis County sees number of liens skyrocket

Posted July 01, 2011, at 5:34 p.m.
Last modified July 01, 2011, at 6:15 p.m.

DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine —The recession is relentless in Piscataquis County, where liens for nonpayment of property taxes are on the rise and foreclosures are remaining steady.

For the 2010 tax year, the Piscataquis County Registry of Deeds processed 181 liens from Milo, 104 from Brownville and 142 from Sangerville, while most other Piscataquis  County communities had fewer than 100.

“They’re more than we normally get,” Piscataquis County Registrar Linda Smith said Thursday of the number of liens. “We were shocked.”

Smith said she had not yet received the 2010 tax liens from Dover-Foxcroft and Greenville.

She said the county also has been receiving a steady number of foreclosures. There had been a lull in foreclosures, but now they are picking up again, she noted.

Louise Caron, Aroostook County’s registrar of deeds, said Friday her office had recorded 545 tax liens from January to June compared with 981 from all of 2010. The town of Madawaska had quite a bit more than usual but other communities had less or were about stable, she noted. There have been fewer foreclosures countywide, she said.

Susan Bulay, Penobscot County’s registrar of deeds, said she has not seen a huge increase in the number of tax liens for those towns that have recorded their liens. She also believed that foreclosures have not increased but noted that there are still a lot of them.

There has been a little uptick in liens in the Unorganized Territory throughout the state, David Ledew of Maine Revenue Services said Friday. There were 1,153 tax liens statewide for 2010 taxes compared with 1,142 for 2009 taxes. The numbers in each of the counties appear to be consistent over the past two years, with the exception of Piscataquis County, which had about 10 more this year, he noted.  

In Piscataquis County since April 1, there have been nine foreclosures in Dover-Foxcroft, four each in Greenville and Guilford, five in Milo and two in Sangerville.

Milo Town Manager Jeff Gahagan said people in his community still are having a tough time, which is a reflection of the local economy.

“We’ve been working with these folks to help them catch up, working on payment plans and those kind of things,” he said this week. Gahagan said selectmen reduced the tax rate from $19.45 to $18.95 per $1,000 property valuation in 2011 to try to help local residents.

Most of the residents who have outstanding taxes are trying hard to repay the town in installments, according to Gahagan. He said those affected range from young couples to senior citizens.

The nonpayment of taxes creates problems for the town, according to Gahagan.

“It’s definitely money the town could use in its coffers right now,” he said.

The town has to borrow funds to make up for the loss, he noted.

“If everybody was paying their taxes on time we might not have to do that kind of thing,” Gahagan said.

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