July 20, 2019

Kennebunkport residents decline to fund revaluation

KENNEBUNKPORT – Kennebunkport residents have rejected spending $225,000 to revaluate their homes.

The decision, made at Saturday’s annual town meeting, means the town won’t take into consideration how much home values have gone up when the next round of tax bills is sent out.

“I feel it is not the proper time … although it could very well become the proper time in a year or two,” said Don Fiske, chairman of the Board of Selectmen.

Many municipalities in southern Maine have struggled to keep their valuations up-to-date in a rapidly changing housing market. Revaluations typically meet a flurry of opposition, but they are mandated by state law.

The state requires a city or town’s total valuation be within 70 percent of fair market value.

According to the state, Kennebunkport’s inland residential properties are assessed at about 67 percent of market value, although the town just completed a revaluation five years ago.

The town’s waterfront properties, which are typically the most valuable, are at 40 percent, according to the state.

David James, a member of the town’s budget board, said a revaluation was needed to spread the tax burden equally.

“A guy who lives in a $2 million or $3 million house on Ocean Avenue, his taxes are being subsidized by a guy who lives in a house that’s worth maybe $250,000,” James said. “It’s just grossly unfair, is what it is.”

But those property owners defended themselves, saying the state’s reliance on the property tax is the root issue, and that a revaluation would tax people out of their homes.

“The numbers are specious,” said Parker Dwelley, who lives on Sand Point Road. “[Property tax] is a regressive, archaic tax and any state official will tell you the same thing.”

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