ELLSWORTH, Maine — A local restaurant has taken an unusual approach to paying its property taxes.
The Bangkok Restaurant, located at 78 Downeast Highway, or Route 1, near the Myrick Street intersection, has created a Gofundme page called “Save the Bangkok” that asks its customers to help foot its $25,000 property tax bill.
“After more than three decades as an Ellsworth … culinary mainstay, the Bangkok Restaurant needs YOUR support,” a statement posted on the Gofundme page indicates. “In order to satisfy mounting property tax obligations, we need to raise at least $25,000 by the end of January to keep the doors open.”
The Bangkok Restaurant, which has been in Ellsworth since 1987, has been a “tremendous source of pride” for owner Pronsavanh “Alicia” Soutthivong and her daughters, according to the Gofundme post.
“And now it’s time for you, the community, to return the favor,” the family said in the post. “Please give what you can. Time is of the essence. The Bangkok’s doors must remain open. The Soutthivong family’s dream must remain alive.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, $1,350 had been donated toward the $25,000 goal.
Attempts Tuesday afternoon to contact Soutthivong were unsuccessful.
According to information posted in the city’s publicly accessible online property tax database, The Bangkok Restaurant has had difficulty paying its property taxes for the past two years. The overall assessed value of the real estate is $769,800.
The restaurant had a lien placed on it by the city after it failed to pay $12,073 in property taxes in 2015, but those taxes have since been paid, according to Amanda Tupper, the city’s tax collector.
Tupper said the city has filed another lien against the restaurant because it still owes $14,424 for its 2016 property tax bill. Nor has the restaurant paid the first installment of its 2017 tax bill, which was due last September, she added, but the city has not filed a lien over that overdue payment. That outstanding payment is for $6,920, including interest, which makes for a total of $21,344 in overdue property taxes.
The second half of the restaurant’s 2017 tax bill, a payment of $6,805, is due on March 9.
Tupper said that, in accordance with state law, any outstanding liens on a property have 18 months to mature, at which point the city would foreclose on a property after having given the proper 30-to-45-day notice to the property owner and mortgage holders. In the case of The Bangkok Restaurant, she said, the city would not foreclose on the property until this coming December, assuming the back taxes, plus interest and fees, are not paid off by then.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly indicated that the restaurant had not yet paid its 2015 property taxes.