The Winthrop Town Council on Monday confirmed the appointment of a South Portland man as interim tax assessor following the death last month of the town’s last assessor, Donald Cadwell.

With a late August deadline for putting residents’ tax bills into the mail, local officials have hurried to find qualified people to finish Cadwell’s work, Town Manager Peter Nielsen said.

Sarah Fuller, the council chairwoman, said it’s a temporary appointment and Nielsen is expected to bring a proposal for a long-term solution to the Sept. 12 Town Council meeting for consideration.

The interim assessor, David Sawyer, already has worked for Winthrop for several days at a rate of $550 per day, said Nielsen, but the council had to appoint him formally to serve as assessor.

Sawyer was recommended by an official in the Maine Revenue Services office, Nielsen added.

The town also has recruited Maureen AuCoin to inspect about 90 properties in town. Such inspections are required to accurately assess the tax value of buildings, Nielsen said, and also would have been one of Cadwell’s duties.

AuCoin used to perform tax assessments for Hallowell and more recently served as an interim town manager there. Winthrop is paying AuCoin $21 an hour for her work, Nielsen added.

Nielsen called the town lucky to have found AuCoin and Sawyer on such short notice and during a busy time of year for assessors.

“These two are trying to do in three weeks what it probably would have taken Don six weeks to do, had he stayed with us,” he said.

AuCoin and Sawyer are working with Maura Smith, the town’s assessing assistant.

Cadwell, a Lewiston native, worked for the city of Augusta for 35 years before retiring and becoming a contract assessor for Winthrop.

Nielsen declined to talk about Cadwell “out of respect for his family.”

But one of Cadwell’s former employees was effusive in her praise.

“He was the best boss I think one could ever have,” said Lisa Morin, who assisted Cadwell for many years in Augusta’s assessing department and became the city’s assessor after he retired.

“I started there in 1985, with no experience,” she recalled. “Don taught us (Morin and another assistant) everything we needed. He always encouraged us to do the courses. We became certified Maine assessors.”

Morin added, “He was a very knowledgeable guy, very fair, very hardworking and a very smart man. I always called him the ‘number wizard.’ He could take one number and rearrange it I don’t know how many different ways.”

According to his obituary, Cadwell died July 20 at the age of 64. He lived in Augusta at the time, but previously spent 30 years in Wayne. He also served on Wayne’s Planning Board.

Working for Winthrop on a part-time, contractual basis, Cadwell made $36,067, Nielsen said.

In the current fiscal year, Winthrop’s total tax valuation was $610 million.

“Don thought (next year’s assessment) was going to be about even,” Nielsen said. “But there’s always some changes, a lot of internal pluses and minuses. A mobile home leaves. A home is taken down.”

Winthrop residents make two payments on their tax bills each year. One is due at the end of September and the second is due in early spring. The town likes to give residents at least a month to make their first payment, Nielsen said, and before he died, Cadwell was on track to complete the town’s tax assessments by Aug. 25.

That has put the town in a tight spot, Nielsen said, with less than a month for Sawyer, AuCoin and Smith to complete the assessments.

Once this year’s tax bills are mailed, the council will consider whether to hire an assessor for next year, Nielsen said.

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker