CUMBERLAND, Maine — With an eye toward working regionally, Cumberland and Yarmouth are now procuring assessing services from Cumberland County.
Falmouth may soon follow, along with other communities, Cumberland County Manager Peter Crichton said last week.
The county recently hired Gary James as its new director of regional assessing, according to a Nov. 6 press release. He will run the fledgling Cumberland County Regional Assessing Office, which was born out of Falmouth, Yarmouth and Cumberland asking the county’s cooperation.
“This an opportunity for the county to provide assessing services for those communities at the same level of service, and also provide an opportunity for other communities to benefit from having a county assessing office,” Crichton told The Forecaster in August, noting that consolidating departments could allow towns to boost efficiency and cut costs.
Towns still retain control over their assessing departments and have to approve employment of the assessors; they also continue to hold local control over the appeals process.
Cumberland and Yarmouth shared assessor Bill Healey for the nine years until May, when he accepted an assessing job in Scarborough, which left both towns without an assessor.
Falmouth Assessor Anne Gregory announced earlier this year that she will retire early next summer. The Town Council will discuss the regional model this winter and decide whether Falmouth will participate at the regional level, according to Town Manager Nathan Poore.
That also gives James time to develop a system for Cumberland and Yarmouth, Poore said.
James previously worked as a commercial litigation appraisal supervisor in South Carolina. He started with the county Nov. 4.
“I look forward to the challenge of creating a completely new enterprise which will provide quality assessing services with the great potential for increased savings over time for any municipalities wishing to be a part of the new regional
assessing office,” he said in the county press release.
Crichton said James brings the county more than 20 years worth of experience as a certified general real estate appraiser.
Yarmouth Town Manager Nat Tupper said via e-mail last week that while final figures have yet to be determined, he expects the town to pay a little more than $90,000 annually for Jones’s services. He said that includes items such as office expenses, software, legal work, mapping, training, salary and software.
“In essence, this represents about what Yarmouth would otherwise be paying for a shared assessor with Cumberland and a savings over hiring a single full-time assessor for just Yarmouth,” Tupper said. “When/if the number of participating towns grow, we would expect to gain some savings. We are also expecting this approach to give us greater stability, more specialized support, and sustainability through turnovers.”
Cumberland Town Manager Bill Shane said his town will pay more than $5,100 a month, or nearly $62,000 annually.