Local assessors are expecting a few angry phone calls this summer when some taxpayers receive higher property tax bills.

Legislators changed the popular Homestead Exemption this year to reduce the exemption for homes assessed at $125,000 or more. The change means hundreds of Twin Cities taxpayers will see their property tax bills go up.

Auburn Assessor Joe Downey said there’s nothing municipalities can do about the changes except give people some warning: Beware of sticker shock.

“Most people won’t figure that out until they open their tax bill and start calling us,” Downey said. “The state did this to raise revenues, but the local government is the one that’s going to be taking all the blame.”

In Auburn, the changes to the 5-year-old Homestead Property Tax Exemption could increase the tax bills of 10 percent of the city’s homeowners by about $55 this year. Less than 1 percent of Auburn homeowners will see their tax bills rise by almost $130 because of the changes, Downey said.

In Lewiston, about 7 percent of the city’s property taxpayers could see their tax bills rise by about $58. Less than 1 percent of taxpayers could see tax bills increase $130.

According to the Maine Department of Revenue, homes assessed at less than $125,000 will continue to have the first $7,000 of their home’s value exempted from property tax. In Lewiston and Auburn, that can cut $200 from the property tax bill.

The Legislature reduced the exemption for homes valued at more than $125,000 when it passed Gov. John Baldacci’s budget this spring. According to the new program, homes valued at more than $125,000 but less than $250,000 will qualify for a $5,000 exemption. Homes valued at more than $250,000 qualify for a $2,500 exemption.

“We’re obviously not the main targets of this,” Downey said. “The municipalities in southern Maine, some of them don’t have any property valued at less than $125,000, so that’s where the state is expecting to get the revenue. But even here, where property values are lower, it’s going to be noticed.”

Lewiston Tax Assessor Joe Grube said he found out about the changes last week while his department was preparing budgets.

“I would have preferred that they didn’t change the Homestead Exemption, but it wasn’t up to me,” Grube said. “It’s just one of the things we’re getting ready for at this point.”

Downey said his department will have to retool to handle the calculations for the exemption. The state has pledged to pay Maine cites and towns 35 cents per exemption to help pay for computer conversions.

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