North Yarmouth tax rate shrinks as value grows

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NORTH YARMOUTH — A fiscal year 2018 tax rate projected to be $18.24 per $1,000 of property valuation earlier this year has ended up at $16.27 – down from the $17.62 the town levied in 2017.

The drop is due to a nearly $50 million increase in town value, which offsets tax impacts, Town Manager Rosemary Roy said in an interview Sept. 7.

The town’s tax rate is derived by adding town expenses (minus town revenues), county and school assessments, and tax increment financing funds – and then dividing that total by the town’s total taxable value, which was $425 million during fiscal year 2017.

An 8.7 percent municipal budget increase, along with a 6.54 percent tax hike from School Administrative District 51 to North Yarmouth and Cumberland, made significantly larger tax bills look likely. On top of that, a tax on big-ticket personal property, removed in this fiscal year, threatened to add 17.5 cents to the town’s tax rate, since the repeal reduced North Yarmouth’s total taxable value by $4 million.

North Yarmouth conducted a revaluation in 2013, and through its assessing contract with Atlantic Valuation Service, the town sought to revisit property values again this year, Roy explained. Instead of doing another revaluation, Assessor Bob Konczal looked at taxes compared to growth in the housing market, and adjusted home values across the town accordingly.

“He found us to be undervalued,” Roy said. “… Our values weren’t matching the market.”

“It is not a significant increase (approximately 10 percent on average),” Konczal wrote in a memo that went out with tax bills this month, “but is needed to keep up with the ascending real estate market.”

As a result, North Yarmouth’s total property value has increased from $425 million – prior to the personal property tax repeal – to nearly $475 million.

North Yarmouth’s amount to be raised through property taxes, $7.9 million, is divided by the town’s total valuation base (including non-reimbursed homestead exemption values) of nearly $485 million, to achieve a tax rate of 0.01627, or $16.27 per $1,000 of property valuation.

Roy expects town values to be reviewed regularly in the future.

“We couldn’t have asked for it at a better time,” she said of the tax rate reduction, noting the tax impacts of major projects on the horizon – a SAD 51 performing arts center, and the potential rebuilding of  Wescustogo Hall at the former North Yarmouth Memorial School.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.