June 16, 2019

Property valuation changes sent out> GNP steady, others rise significantly

MILLINOCKET — The overall value of all town properties, except Great Northern Paper Co.’s paper mill site, increased by about $34 million as the result of the first townwide revaluation in 15 years.

People who have questions about their new property valuations should call the assessor’s office to make an appointment to meet with representatives of Van Tuinen Real Estate Appraisal. Hearings will begin today and will be held through Aug. 25.

Town Manager James Kotredes said the gain in value from the town properties was nearly equal to the $35 million loss in Great Northern’s industrial properties.

The manager said the amount of money to be raised from local taxes had been reduced by more than a million dollars this year as the result of cuts in the town and school budgets.

“The overall value of the town is staying about the same. The amount the budget was reduced will be reflected in a decreased tax rate,” Kotredes said.

But officials said that did not mean every resident would see a decrease in tax bills.

Some residents, whose properties have been substantially undervalued for many years, will see an increase in their tax bills. Officials said the increase was not caused by increased town and school spending, but because their property valuations had been too low.

Millinocket Assessor Lorna Thompson said some homes in the new development area had been selling for more than the assessed valuations set by the town. For example, she said one home assessed at $81,000 by the town had sold for $100,000. In other cases, some homes were valued at $40,000 by the town, but were sold for $70,000.

She said some properties, such as mobile homes, went down in valuation.

Kotredes said the purpose of revaluing properties was to provide equity among taxpayers and to make sure everyone was paying their fair share. “The trend people are going to see is a shifting of the tax burden away from Great Northern and onto the residential and commercial properties,” he said.

Next year Great Northern’s valuation will drop by another $35 million, and will further drop by another $15 million in 1997, the manager said. These drops are the result of the mill’s successful appeal of its previously higher valuations.

“In order to keep the tax rate stable, we will need to reduce the tax commitment (the amount raised from local taxes) by $794,500 next year. The bottom line of it is that people are going to pay more taxes for fewer services,” Kotredes said.

Last week, residents were mailed a notice of their new property valuations and an estimated tax amount. Thompson has not set the tax rate for this year.

While some people have complained about their estimated tax bill, Thompson said they should be focusing on the new valuation.

Residents’ estimated taxes were based on an estimated tax rate of $22.70 per $1,000 of assessed value, a decrease of $3.60 compared with the current tax rate of $26.30.

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