As Ronald Reagan famously would have said: “There they go again.” I’m referring to the Auburn City Council voting (not unanimously) to value real property at 100 percent market value for property tax purposes. The net effect, of course, is a huge tax increase for most property owners.
The councilors who voted for this measure made it sound like the state law left them no choice. I don’t know if state law requires towns and cities to tax property at full market value (I suspect it merely requires that residential and commercial property be taxed on an equal basis) but I do know that nothing in state law requires Auburn to raise its taxes. For the city council to imply otherwise is either the product of ignorance or naked cynicism.
The council knows that what determines the tax bill is the mil rate, not the valuation rate. There is something very simple that the council can do to ensure that taxes do not go up as a result of this revaluation: match the increase in valuation with a corresponding decrease in the mil rate. That way taxes will stay the same and no property owner, commercial or residential, will be able to complain about being treated unfairly.
And if this simple proposal results in lower tax revenues because the gouging of commercial property owners comes to an end, I have another simple, yet novel, proposal to deal with it: cut spending.
Can anyone say “Boston Tea Party?”
James G. Fongemie, Auburn