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

Thursday, April 24, 2003

EDITORIAL:

Revaluation process painful, but makes tax burden fair

Copyright 2003 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.

 

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It's no fun for people see their property tax bills double or even triple, but it's also no fun for people to pay an unfair share.

Many communities in southern Maine have revalued or soon will revalue homes to make property assessments closer to the region's soaring market values. Like it or not, revaluation is the law - and a matter of fairness.

Someone living in a house inland shouldn't have to pay more taxes than someone living on the coast in a home that's worth three times its current assessed value. The revaluation process smooths the disparity.

High property values are fine for people who are planning to sell their home - it makes for a good investment - but it's true that it can hurt farmers and others who are planning to keep their property.

Tools like the state's tree growth program, which taxes wood lots at a lower rate and penalizes property owners when they sell to developers, can help.

The state's circuit breaker program also provides some relief to homeowners whose property taxes cut into a disproportionate share of their income.

Pending legislation known as the Chebeague plan, meanwhile, would cap annual land assessment increases at 2 percent for people who agree not to sell their land to anyone outside their family, and assesses a penalty to those who break the pledge. This is a great plan that should be adopted. These mechanisms can help ease the pinch of revaluation for those it negatively affects, but the overall effect of the process is positive.


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