NORWAY — Taxpayers will see a slight increase in their tax bill but officials say the increase could have been higher if the town had not seen so much growth this year.

Assessor Jodi Keniston, who recently met with the Board of Selectmen to update them on the tax bills, said the new rate for this year is $15.20, an increase of ½ mill or 50 cents per thousand dollars of valuation more than last year’s rate. The new rate means that an owner of a property worth $200,000 will see a $100 increase in taxes over last year’s rate, she said.

The first payment is due in November, the second payment is due in May.

Keniston said an increase of more than $5 million in the overall value of new houses and out buildings or additions in town this year helped to limit the increase in the mil rate.

Keniston said if the town had not seen the amount of growth in its valuation this year, the mill rate would have had to be higher to raise the amount of money needed to fund county, school and municipal needs.

“Any increase in valuation gained by new buildings or new personal property business equipment means that the money needed to be raised by taxes can be spread over more valuation, which lowers the mill rate,” Keniston said Friday.

Additionally, Keniston said that if the town’s valuation was less than current 104 percent of the state’s certified ratio of market value, the mill rate would have to be higher.

“The amount of money needing to be raised from taxes stays the same, however, if the valuation goes down the mill rate goes up,” she said.

Keniston, who is set to retire in January 2015 after serving the town for more than 20 years, said a total of 3,500 tax bills have been mailed out to Norway property owners.

Keniston said she is often asked how she comes up with the tax rate.

The total valuations come from a combination of the type of construction, quality of construction and materials and the square footage of the building that is depreciated because of condition, she said.

In 2007, Keniston said, she did an “in-house” revaluation and found that the information on the properties were “pretty accurate,” so she updated the tables in the town’s tax collection software program to reflect costs more in line with market costs.

Keniston said each year the state does a sales ratio study comparing the town’s assessed values with what properties actually sell for to come up with what’s called a certified ratio of market value.

“100 percent is where you want to be,” Keniston said. “We’re at 104 percent.”

Keniston said market analysts has been difficult because there are limited “arms-length transactions” which she said means a willing buyer and a willing seller with no outstanding circumstances such as foreclosures or flips of foreclosure.

Keniston said that even though the values may look high, “they are high at the same rate in all types of properties, creating equity.”

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