WINSLOW — A citywide reassessment was completed this year, and many Winslow property owners saw their assessments jump, resulting in much larger tax bills despite the lower municipal tax rate, prompting some property owners to express their frustration this week At a city council meeting.
Monday’s meeting attracted more than 50 residents and began with a public comment period that included tense exchanges as Council President Peter Drapeau and City Manager Erica LaCroix explained the reasons for the increased tax bills the city mailed earlier this month to property owners.
While the city’s new $31 million budget reduced property taxes from $21.20 to $15 per $1,000 of $1,000 of assessed assessment, city officials said residents are seeing larger bills because the city conducted its first reassessment in 15 years, bringing To increase Winslow’s overall assessed value by more than 35%. The increase in residential properties has been particularly sharp, Drapeau said.
“What happened in Winslow is 90 percent of the homes are undervalued,” he said. “The last time it (re-evaluated) was done in 2008. It was supposed to be done in 2018. We have been treading water from 2018 until now to re-evaluate. We have been punished for the last three years by the state because we did not that”.
The valuation of certain types of properties has increased much more than others. Assessed values for single-family and multifamily homes are up 73% and 85%, respectively, according to a memo from Winslow City Assessor Judy Mathieu. The value of manufactured housing, which includes mobile homes and prefabricated homes, rose 95%.
However, commercial property values increased by only 40%. Lacroix said he “could not have expected” the different assessments.
The reappraisal was conducted by KRT Appraisal, based in Haverhill, Massachusetts.
Residents told the City Council that the working class could be priced out of Winslow. In a lively exchange with Drapeau, one resident said the reassessment does not accurately reflect real estate values in Winslow, and that “the bubble is in the process of bursting.”
“My property tax was assessed by strangers from Massachusetts, and the town paid for it to the tune of $200,000,” one resident said. My house has increased, according to the tax assessor, $120,000. I didn’t do a damn thing to the house. In my opinion, it has been devalued.”
Property assessments are up across the board, even if homeowners haven’t improved or upgraded their homes or properties, LaCroix said. She said the state constitution requires all property to be assessed so a fair tax rate can be determined.
“The process is mandatory,” Lacroix said. “The state is required to do this because in the state constitution, we’re supposed to be fair in the way property is valued. So, when you get too far down the road, you start to see things get out of hand, and that’s where we’re at here.”
Residents said they are concerned that low- and moderate-income Winslow residents will bear much of the financial pain caused by large tax bills. Resident Ryan Clark warned that landlords may raise rents to cover rising property taxes.
“You’re going to drive the working class out of the city. The rent has to go up,” he said. “It’s not just people who own homes who will pay more. The landlord will pass this cost directly to the people renting. Everyone will pay more. Winslow shouldn’t exist just for the wealthy. It should be there for everyone.”
The top Republican in the state Senate is leading DeSantis’ campaign in Maine