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