AUBURN — The City Council on Monday approved a $700,000 program that will send $300 tax “relief” checks to city homeowners 65 and older who qualify for the state’s Homestead Exemption program.

The project, coming from the city’s allotment of American Rescue Plan Act funds, came forward in response to public concerns over this year’s market adjustments in Auburn, which resulted in increased taxes for a large number of residents.

The city sent notices regarding the valuation adjustments in July, with some tax bills increasing by hundreds of dollars. City assessing staff said the adjustments, which are based on recent home sales prices, were needed to meet state requirements.

As city staff held informational sessions for the public, it also responded with the proposed relief check program. However, last month, the City Council tabled an original proposal to use $1.5 million from the ARPA to send $300 checks to any homeowner enrolled in the state’s Homestead Exemption program. After hearing feedback from the public, officials decided to narrow the scope to reduce the overall budget.

On Monday, some councilors were still not convinced that the checks would provide enough benefit to justify the cost. Councilor Ryan Hawes said he had heard from a number of constituents who believe the funding should be allocated to items that could have a broader impact, such as “community development” programs.

Councilor Joe Morin said he had heard some of the same concerns, but said he agreed with the limited scope of the program, with the funding “more targeted.”


“I think that’s what this is,” he said. “I like that it’s a portion of funds that can be reallocated. The target of 65 and older are people who would truly benefit from this.”

According to a council memo, the goal is to provide checks to homeowners 65 and older whose taxes increased by $300 or more. An application will be created by city staff, made available by November, with Feb. 1 deadline to apply.

Councilor Leroy Walker said he’d heard from many people that the extra $300 will help them.

“It’s not going to go to waste,” he said.

The vote was 5-2, with Councilors Belinda Gerry and Hawes opposed.



Also on Monday, officials discussed the current schedule for upcoming informational sessions on the T-4.2B zoning type, the form-based code that is proposed for several residential areas, starting with the Court Street corridor.

After several months of a controversial process to rezone the 1,687-acre area, the City Council tabled a vote last week on the zoning to allow for more public “informational” sessions.

The zoning, known as T-4.2B, was created following concerns from neighborhood residents over the previous iteration that allows for more variety of housing types and commercial uses in the mostly single-family neighborhoods. However, a number of residents, including those behind a citizens’ petition effort, have argued that the new zoning has been created without sufficient input from the public and needs more public support to ultimately be successful.

Prior to a final reading on applying the zoning last week, Councilor Joe Morin said he supports the zoning type and believes it will be beneficial for the city, but believes the public needs to hear more about how it could impact them.

On Monday, City Manager Phil Crowell said an upcoming virtual meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Oct. 19, followed by an in-person meeting at Auburn Hall on Oct. 25. He said the city is also be working on another date and location, with Fairview school proposed as the site.

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.