Brunswick Council authorizes property tax revaluation

  • Mail this page!
  • Delicious
  • 0

BRUNSWICK — Councilors on Monday voted to authorize the town to proceed with a property tax revaluation, and issue bonds to cover the costs of the project.

Councilors voted 8-1 in favor of the ordinance, with Councilor Perreault dissenting. The revaluation comes with a price tag of $400,000.

The current tax rate is $28.36 per $1,000 of assessed value.

Councilor Jane Millet, citing her experience as a real estate agent, said Brunswick property taxes have been “out of whack” over the years. “It’s time for us to equalize them,” she said.

It has been 17 years since the town last had a property tax revaluation, according to Town Assessor Cathleen Jamison.

In the time since, some properties have been taxed at a rate higher than their actual value, while some, especially those on waterfront parcels or that have undergone renovation, are taxed at a lower rate.

Overall, the town’s ratio of assessed property is 64 percent of market value, according to Jamison.

Under state law, a town cannot fall under 70 percent of assessed value.

“This is a matter of law, we cannot avoid this,” said Councilor John Richardson.

Town Manager John Eldridge stressed that the revaluation would not result in the town acquiring more revenue from property taxes, but rather redistribute where those taxes are coming from.

Richardson likened the process to re-dividing the slices of a pie, rather than making the pie larger.

But some councilors expressed interest in delaying the vote two weeks to give the public more time to hear about the revaluation.

“This is the right thing to do,” said Council Chairwoman Sarah Brayman. “But when (some) people’s taxes go up quite a bit, equity will sound pretty hollow.”

“There are a lot of people out there that may be surprised when this goes through,” she added.

Councilor John Perreault agreed.

“There’s going to be a group of people out there that will be pissed off at this town, this council for doing this,” he said.

During public comment, two Brunswick residents spoke in favor of the project, and urged councilors to pass the bond ordinance.

Sarah Ward, of Franklin Street, said “just on my street, there are amazing inequities … so thank you, it’s long overdue.”

The town will issue a request for proposals to select a contractor for the revaluation, Town Manager John Eldridge said.

Walter Wuthmann can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or Follow Walter on Twitter: @wwuthmann.

Brunswick Town Hall at 85 Union Street.

Brunswick/Harpswell reporter for The Forecaster. Bowdoin College grad, San Francisco Bay Area native. Follow for municipal, school, community, and environmental news from the Midcoast.
  • Chew H Bird

    So, if the towns assessed value is 64% percent of value, and legally it cannot be under 70% why are we paying taxes? J/K. Actually, since the town already claims to know the assessed value, why are we doing this? I cannot believe that Brunswick would re-value property if there was no increase in tax revenue and borrow money through bonds to cover the cost? So our town government needs to borrow money to cover the costs of a property revaluation that they knew was necessary and failed to budget? I think we need new leadership.

  • poppypapa

    You can always count on John Richardson to be devoted to complying with the law, and wagging his finger at anyone who doesn’t. Careful not to poke your eye out, councilor.

    Read about revaluation here:

    If this goes through and is revenue neutral, there will be a public hat-eating ceremony outside the still unrepaired Town Hall.

  • wmjbk

    A revaluation of real property in a jurisdiction has the end result of distributing the real estate tax burden equitably based on the current fair market value of one’s property. A city or town that does not conduct revaluations periodically eventually ends up with the tax levy being unfairly distributed. This being due to changes in the market, home improvements, shifts in neighborhood lives, new construction, etc.
    Recurring revaluations, say every three or five years, iron out inequities that have built up from the last revaluation and ensure that home owners and businesses are paying their fair share of the tax burden, again, based on the fair market value of their property.
    Massachusetts is a perfect example where the State mandated triennial revaluations has all but removed “sticker shock” for residential and commercial taxpayers when they receive notice of their new reassessments every three years.

    • Chew H Bird

      Hmmmmmmm. Thinking about Rockland and a particular property currently in the headlines, purchased in 2013, that has supposedly increased over 80% according to the towns assessment… Hmmmmmmm.

  • VH or die

    wmjbk nailed it, the point is to redistribute the tax burden equally. Some properties are currently over valued and some are under valued. The revaluation is a time when all properties are adjusted based on current market value. Some properties won’t change at all if their values are already accurate. Taxes will vary depending on what the overall change to the grand list is and the change to the upcoming budget. Only then will the town be able to set a new mill rate(tax rate) and determine how the revaluation effects everyone. Grand List / Grand Levy(budget) = mill rate or Grand List x mill rate = Budget/Levy. Chew H Bird- I’m sure there are a lot of particulars that go into that sale in Rockland. But sometimes revaluation companies miss the value, or there’s bad data which is partially why you do a revaluation(find mistakes changes w/out permits).