Friday, October 2, 2020

Windham finds new life for repurposed town vehicles

By Ed Pierce

The typical knock on municipalities in Maine is that they’re not often frugal stewards of public spending, yet the town of Windham aims to alter that perception with a program that repurposes older serviceable town vehicles.

An example of that frugality are two low-mileage Ford Explorers, a 2017 and a 2016, that had been used by the Windham Police Department that have been transferred for use by the Windham Assessors Office.

Instead of soliciting bids to purchase new vehicles for the town’s Assessors Office, Windham retained the older police vehicles and reassigned them for use by the assessing office staff, saving the taxpayers the expense of buying a new vehicles for them. 

One of the low-mileage Ford Explorer vehicles
repurposed and wrapped to identify it as
representing the Windham Assessor's Office is
shown. The vehicle is one of two Ford Explorers
formerly used by the Windham Police
Department that have been transferred to the
Assessor's Office rather than purchasing new
vehicles and saving the town money.
“We rotate vehicles through the departments as newer ones come on line,” said Barry A. Tibbetts, Windham Town Manager. “In the police department we usually rotate two new vehicles in per year and those coming off the front-line service 24/7 are repurposed to another department that may need a vehicle.”

Tibbetts said that the latest rotation saw two former police cars rewrapped with a new design scheme and then moved to the Windham Assessing Department in the past few weeks for continued use.

“The wrap for the vehicle is much less expensive than a new paint application,” Tibbetts said.

According to Tibbetts, the repurposed vehicle is clearly identified as a Windham Assessing vehicle for home and site inspections.

“Prior to this we often had staff indicating residents thought it was a police vehicle coming to visit,” he said. “This wrap on the vehicle allows for much better identification of staff in the assessing office.”

The Windham Assessor's Office is responsible for the valuation of all taxable property in Windham, both real estate and personal property. It is also a center of information for property owners, title companies, real estate brokers and appraisers, attorneys, and other departments and agencies in the community.

The Assessors’ Office maintains historical information as well as current data about properties such as ownership, deeds, inventories of land and structures, property characteristics, and town maps. The office also administers any property tax exemption programs enacted by the Maine Legislature such as veterans, blind, and homestead exemptions.

The assessing staff continually updates assessments to reflect new construction, additions and demolitions and can put a lot of miles on town vehicles in making evaluations around Windham.

According to Windham Town Assessor Elisa Trepanier, the repurposed vehicles are an upgrade to several older model Ford Explorers her department had been using.

“We’ve never had new cars,” Trepanier said. “Before the Ford Explorers we were using, we had older Chevy Impalas. Those were difficult to get to some places as some roads were tough to navigate. The Explorers are more rugged and make it easier for us to do the job.”

Trepanier said the newly wrapped Explorers are also much more identifiable with a distinct vehicle wrap compared to the older plain blue vehicles and have fewer miles.

“They stand out much more and we’re grateful for the upgrades,” she said. < 

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