January 8, 2016

New Windham assessor planning for the future - By Michelle Libby

Elisa Trepanier has taken the reins as the Town of Windham assessor, replacing Dave Sawyer, who retired recently. She was officially given the job at a town council meeting before the holidays and has had only six days on the job.   

“I’ve been training under Dave Sawyer for 10 years. I’m taking advantage of that,” Trepanier said. She had been the assistant assessor for the past 10 years working with commercial properties, assessing business equipment and personal property as well as working with Geographic Information Systems (GIS).  Before that she worked in Raymond in assessing.  

Trepanier is a Certified Maine Assessor (2006), has an associate’s degree in business management, a GIS certificate from the University of Southern Maine and 18 years of experience in the field.  

“GIS lets us visualize, question, analyze, and interpret data to understand relationships, patterns, and trends. GIS is the go-to technology for making better decisions about location. Common examples include real estate site selection, route/corridor selection, evacuation planning, conservation, natural resource extraction, etc.,” according to www.esri.com, the creators of GIS software.  

As the assessor, Trepanier is tasked with keeping an inventory of all structures in Windham, which is the basis of the tax bill. She oversees the grading of new homes based on quality. She also runs the Vision Appraisal software that the community has access to on the www.windhammaine.us website.  

One of the assessor’s jobs is to track home sales that occur to make sure that the assessed value is as close to market value as they can be. This equitable value is constantly monitored. In 2006, there was a revaluation where all homes were checked and assessed with new photos and measurements. After the collapse of the housing bubble, former assessor Sawyer updated the assessments to make the housing values more equitable.  The biggest change for Trepanier will be the added administrative component. She will have to work with budgets, timelines and make sure the tax commitments to the state are completed which include farm tax programs to tree growth tax programs and more.  
Building permits are granted and once the work is completed, someone from the assessor’s office will go out to measure, take pictures and grade the work.  

Trepanier also oversees and works with Joan Hodgdon, an appraiser who mostly deals with residential assessing and Kara Taylor, the administrative assistant. There will be some changes in the office in the upcoming months to shift responsibilities and possibly bring in a new staff member to fill the position left by Trepanier’s promotion, she said.  

Trepanier plans to spend at least the next 15 years as Windham’s assessor, she said. In the next few years, “I would like to see fair and equitable values, annual certified ratio at 100 percent and an excellent quality rating,” she said.  

“If [residents] have a question concerning state tax programs, exemptions, feel free to call the office. We have 70 plus years of experience in assessing in our office,” Trepanier said.  

Trepanier lives in Raymond, has two grandkids and two ponies she cares for. She also enjoys kayaking and has a small sailboat. In April she will celebrate 30 years of marriage to her husband.  

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