12 High St. heads off tax rolls

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LEWISTON – A decision to move private doctors out of Central Maine Medical Center’s 12 High St. office could mean $275,000 less in property taxes for the city.

The hospital has applied for tax-exempt status on the office building. It’s assessed at $10 million by the city.

“We have multiple buildings, and there are many different services we provide,” said Chuck Gill, vice president of public affairs at the hospital. “Those services do move around over time. Some have migrated out of that building and others have moved in.”

The hospital rented space in the building to a private practice last year. All of the offices and services in the building – doctors’ offices, CMMC’s human relations office and the Bennett Breast Care Center – are now directly affiliated with the hospital.

That would make the building exempt from having to pay property taxes to the city, according to Tax Assessor Joe Grube. Grube has until late July to review the tax status for the building.

“We’ll be very careful and review it, of course,” he said. “We just need to make sure that no part of the building is being used for any for-profit uses. And as long as they meet the tax-exempt criteria, there’s nothing we can do about it.”

Grube said his department received the hospital’s application late last week, just before the April 1 deadline. He typically gets several applications for tax-exempt status each year, from local hospitals, schools, churches and service groups.

City Administrator Jim Bennett said the change is just one more issue city councilors will have to face in their budget deliberations in coming weeks.

“This is one of the things that happens in a city that has so many non-profits,” Bennett said. The hospital has typically been one of the top five property tax payers.

That should not change, Gill said.

“Keep in mind, we have many other properties and we will continue to pay about $470,000 in taxes on those,” he said.

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