FARMINGTON – Before approving a .5 mil increase to the 2008 tax rate, selectmen offered homeowners some help and 60 days to find other living arrangements after the mobile home they live in was considered too dangerous to inhabit.
The owners of the 17-year-old home at 103 Dutch Drive, Amy and Randy Carsten, agreed that the structure is failing even though they put $5,000 worth of repairs in last year to stabilize the roof and patch the siding. The couple own the mobile home and lease the lot from Cascade Land Holdings, Inc., at Cascade Leisure Park off High Street. The structure is so unstable that windows are breaking.
“It’s not worth putting more money into,” said Steve Kaiser, the town’s code enforcement officer. “I’d like to help these people in terms of finding alternative housing.”
Homeowner Amy Carsten said she tried to talk to Maine State Housing to get help but found they still couldn’t afford the upgrades necessary to repair their home. Kaiser said a possibility is trading units, for a newer unit that the developer owns and help find financing that will be affordable.
“No one will be put out on the street,” Kaiser said. “We’re looking for a solution.”
“We didn’t know we could ask the town for help,” Amy Carsten said. “We’ve asked the state and a bank for help but we can’t move out until the mortgage is paid off.” They had signed on to a 30-year mortgage agreement.
Cartsen said she hoped they could refinance and exchange homes in a deal with the landlord. Kaiser said he would help them put together a package that would include demolition costs of their current home and acquisition of the newer model within the 60 day time period.
“Thank you for all your help,” she said after selectmen voted to give them 60 days to find another living arrangement.
The tax rate will go up by .5 to 15.28 per $1,000 worth of property for 2008. Last year’s mil rate was 14.73. The selectmen’s decision to not use money from the undesignated fund balance, which in the past has helped keep the tax rate level, was the reason for the rise.
The town’s assessor, Mark Caldwell, who sets the rate, said it was an odd situation where there wasn’t a lot of new construction for increased tax revenue and there was no fund balance to counter act the increase as in the past. In addition, fuel prices in particular, along with other variables have driven up the county, school and town budgets.
Selectman Nancy Porter voted against the rate increase because, “I don’t want to raise taxes,” she said.
“It’s just the math,” Caldwell said. “I can’t do magic here.”