June 06, 2020

Lubec to appeal state valuation

LUBEC — The Board of Selectmen will appeal the state’s valuation of Lubec real estate, hoping to knock more than $5 million off the valuation that has doubled in just three years.

The board will appeal for a reduction of $5,125,530 in this year’s proposed valuation of $64 million. A hearing on the appeal is expected within 45 days. If the appeal is successful, the lower valuation could increase the state’s subsidy for the school, increase state revenue-sharing payments and decrease Lubec’s county tax, for a total gain to the town of $80,000 to $100,000.

The appeal is based upon data gathered by Town Office Manager Normand Laberge, who attended a State of Maine tax school this summer and earned certification as a tax assessor.

“What I’ve done,” Laberge said Monday, “is used the state’s own techniques to reduce our valuation, comparing sales with assessed value, calculating the correct ratio. There’s been a feeling for several years here that our land has been overvalued; I think now we have defensible documentation that it has, by about $5 million.”

Lubec has 96 miles of shoreline, the most of any town in the state. Several large parcels sold for high prices during the land boom of the late 1980s, but few new houses were added to the town’s tax base. “We are going to reassess this year, concentrating on land, rather than houses,” Laberge said. “We had a complete reassessment done in 1987 on houses and land. The houses are the hard part; they haven’t changed much. The land value has had a lot of pressures on it; we hope to come up with one value that’s a good indicator of fair value.”

An issue that has been raised at the town’s Board of Assessors meetings has been the conflict between the state’s higher valuation of shoreland and the state’s increasing restrictions on shoreland development, which some hard-hit property owners see as decreasing their land’s value. “It’s a valid concern, one that the state may have to face, but it does not figure into this appeal,” Laberge said. “This is based strictly upon the application of the state’s own methods and ending the perpetuation of errors that occurred several years ago.”

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