NORWAY – While some property owners, particularly those on waterfronts, may see a sharp increase in their tax bills this year, the tax rate has decreased, according to local officials.

The Board of Selectmen have received the latest figures from assessor Jodi Keniston, which show a new tax rate of $12.60 per thousand dollars of property value, down from last year’s $16.50.

“Most folks not around the lake will not see a great change in their tax rate,” explained Town Manager David Holt.

“It’s a tough situation we’re seeing in the state of Maine,” said Holt of some property owners who are seeing their taxes double, triple or more over last year.

Holt said that as mandated by law, Keniston made changes in valuations based on sale trends. “You have to have a recipe,” he explained.

Holt said that by doing this every year, townspeople have seen a much less dramatic change in their property bills than those in many other towns that only revalue every 10 or so years.

Keniston said Friday that the last full revaluation was completed in 2003, but land values are routinely updated each year.

The state does not like to see valuations less than 75 percent, and Norway reached that point last year, Keniston said. This year, she hopes to be at 90-percent valuation. The high valuation will equal a lower tax rate, she said.

Selectman Bill Damon expressed concern at Thursday night’s selectmen’s meeting on behalf of people on the lake who have owned camps for generations and may be forced out because of higher property taxes. “I’d hate to see too much hardship put on these people just because a lot of people with money in their pockets come in,” he said.

Holt said that while this is true, homeowners on the lake can see a profitable return when they decide to sell.

Holt said he doesn’t know if there will be a time when longtime homeowners will be given some sort of exemption. “It’s been suggested particularly in coastal areas, but no laws have been passed. At the end of the day, it has to be fair under certain standards,” Holt said of the property assessments.

While Keniston said she expects phone calls from upset property owners after they receive their bills in several weeks, residents should be aware that they have leverage to lower their tax bills by curtailing local spending.

“I think it’s really important for people to get involved and let their voice be heard … . They have total leverage to say yes or no (to spending requests,)” Keniston said. “What we spend affects taxes.”

Property owners also need to remember that valuations are based on sales trends and with escalating sale prices, particularly of waterfront housing, the high prices are reflected in the assessments of everyone’s property, she said.

The rate creates a total tax commitment of $5,344,505 to be levied against $416,179,700 in total taxable property in Norway. Property taxes will be used to pay for a school assessment of $2,679,348; a county assessment of $249,514; and some of Norway’s municipal appropriation of $4,057,843. The remainder of the budget will be covered through state municipal revenue sharing in the amount of $400,000 and other revenues in the amount of $1.3 million.

The first half of taxes is due by Dec. 12 and the second half by June 12.


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