RUMFORD — Two members of the Tax-Acquired Ad Hoc Committee proposed a policy Thursday night during a selectmen’s workshop to help them deal with tax-acquired properties.

Member Bob Chase, also Rumford’s fire chief, said the policy would provide the board with more efficient and streamlined guidelines for these properties.

“We have quite a backload of properties,” Chase said before conducting a PowerPoint presentation.

He said the board will need to catch up in dealing with the backload, but with a policy in place, dealing with new tax-acquired properties should go much faster.

The guidelines call for evaluating the property and providing information and a recommendation to selectmen, who will decide by vote whether the town should keep the property if it’s in the best interest of the town, demolish it or not to keep it and sell it by the bid process or other means.

If selectmen and the town vote to sell the building, Chase said a market analysis should be done.

“We don’t want to miss opportunities to generate revenues to use to get rid of other buildings,” he said. “We want to sell it to someone who has the money to improve it or pay the taxes owed on it.”

Chase then gave the board the committee’s suggested demolition list. At the top of the list are buildings at 426 and 428 Waldo St., already approved for demolition. Work on the properties is pending.

Next were 222, 251 and 317 Pine St., 134 Penobscot St. and 429 Waldo St.

Additional buildings were 215 Penobscot St. and 566 Prospect Ave., which are multi-family buildings with occupants who need to be addressed. Then there’s single-family homes at 15 Front St., 447 Swain Road, 41 Lochness Road and 614 Prospect Ave.

The committee advised selling the Lochness Road and 614 Prospect Ave. buildings.

Considerations when dealing with single-family homes include giving owners, their heirs or abutters 90 days to redeem the property. If it’s not done in that time, the town should start the bidding process on the properties, Chase suggested.

However, he said, the redemption must be in the full interest of the town.

There was talk among selectmen to give the owners, heirs or abutters only 30 days instead of 90 to pay all taxes and fees owed. Chase said selectmen should also give themselves some flexibility to override the proposed policy, should special circumstances warrant it.

Committee member and town attorney Jennifer Kreckel said the committee is trying to help the board and the town reduce its blight.

Chase suggested a drive down through a certain section of Pine Street to see why selectmen and the town need to accelerate the process of ridding the town of its tax-acquired buildings.

“It’s a problem that’s going to continue to grow,” Kreckel said. “There is one property that’s been abandoned by the bank, and now people are living in it.

“There are people living in some of these buildings that we own, and they’re paying rent to the people who used to own the buildings, and they’re not paying taxes to us,” she said.

Town Manager John Madigan said nine new properties were tax acquired this year and added to the list that already has 26 properties on it, one of which had been added in 1996.

“The bulk of these nine new properties, people (who owned them) just walked away from them,” he said.

That’s why Madigan said he suggested that the committee create a policy that could be used to speed up the process.

“We’re prepared to jump on anything as fast as you can provide feedback” on the proposed policy, Chase said.

The board said it would review the proposal.

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