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Press Herald Viewpoints
Press Herald home page news sports business viewpoints obituaries classified special reports personals archive

Thursday, April 17, 2003

EDITORIAL:

Coastal property-tax idea fair and worthy of support

Copyright 2003 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.

 

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When coastal residents started to feel the pinch of higher property tax assessments a few years back, it wasn't always easy to sympathize.

No one, after all, has a right to live on water, and having one's home rise in value by hundreds of thousands of dollars is not the worst problem one could have. Yet the phenomenon of rising property values was a hardship for many and a threat to a way of life.

A commonsense solution to the problem has emerged, and the Legislature should support it.

Called the "Chebeague Plan," the idea is contained in two bills before the Taxation Committee. Under the plan, people owning homes on Chebeague Island and in other coastal communities would have the option to limit their tax increases. Tax bills could rise by no more than 2 percent a year for those who participate.

In return, these property owners would have to agree to keep the homes in their families. If they ever sold them, they would have to pay a substantial penalty.

This has merit. It will allow people to keep their homes and the occasional penalty payment will help offset the lost revenue to towns and cities.

Some don't like the plan because it would provide a benefit to coastal property owners from away. There's nothing wrong with this, however. Seasonal residents contribute to local economies and often have deep roots in the state. Their traditions are as valid as those of Maine citizens.

One caution about the idea, however. The penalty for selling outside the family should be quite severe. That way, the program will only be used by those who really do wish to preserve a family tradition.


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