Bangor panel supports takeover of abandoned properties

Graffiti has been painted on the boarded-up windows of an abandoned apartment building at 147 Court St. in Bangor. City officials are recommending that the city take over the building, which has several years of unpaid taxes.
Graffiti has been painted on the boarded-up windows of an abandoned apartment building at 147 Court St. in Bangor. City officials are recommending that the city take over the building, which has several years of unpaid taxes. Buy Photo
Posted Feb. 19, 2014, at 8:56 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — The finance committee on Wednesday night recommended that the city take over a pair of abandoned properties in the ongoing effort to crack down on absentee owners shirking their taxes.

A 9,000-square-foot apartment building at 147 Court St., next to Coe Park, and an empty lot at 91 Larkin St. have a long history of unpaid taxes and city officials hope to take control of them and get them back onto the market. The city’s attempts to track down the owners haven’t turned up results.

The Court Street building “is a blight to the neighborhood and has cost the city additional funds for securing the property,” according to David Little, Bangor’s treasurer and deputy tax collector. With council approval, the building would be torn down and plot of land sold for new development.

The city will work with the vacant Larkin Street lot’s neighbors to see if they want to acquire the property.

For many years, the council chose to avoid taking properties for overdue taxes, according to Finance Director Debbie Cyr. More recently, councilors have been concerned with the number of abandoned and blighted buildings in the city, so the focus has changed and city staff are going after people with unpaid property taxes.

Since 1996, there are a total of 738 delinquent personal property and real estate tax accounts in the city totaling more than $2 million. However, that’s out of a total combined tax commitment of nearly $693 million in the past 17 years, meaning the city’s overall collection rate has been 99.7 percent.

Councilor Pauline Civiello said she would like to see more of that overdue $2 million.

“I believe that’s a lot of money that could be used for things like our sidewalks,” she said.

Cyr said the city is considering the takeover of a couple more abandoned properties and pieces of land next month.

The full council will decide whether to move forward with the process of taking possession of the properties during its regular meeting at 7:30 p.m. Monday on the third floor of City Hall.

 

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