A Brunswick lawmaker’s proposal for tax relief for homeowners during property reassessments has gained support from legislative leaders.

Dan Ankeles. Courtesy photo

State Rep. Dan Ankeles, a Democrat who represents part of Brunswick, submitted his plan to the Legislative Council, which earlier this month approved it for discussion when lawmakers reconvene in January. Ankeles, who also serves on the Brunswick Town Council, drafted his proposal after he and fellow councilors indefinitely delayed a property reassessment that would have resulted in steep tax hikes for some homeowners due to the red-hot housing market, which has outpaced commercial and industrial building values.

“Spiking home values in towns all over Maine are causing big disruptions in how we typically spread our property tax burden, and it is dragging working families, retirees and renters down,” Ankeles said in a statement Monday. “The Legislature needs to step in and provide some stability before more people lose their housing. The property tax is already regressive enough as it is.”

Ankeles plans to file a bill that would specify state and local assessors could use up to a five-year rolling average of home sales data during reassessments so they do not have to rely exclusively on years when the market is too hot. The bill would also create a companion to the homestead exemption aimed at those with mobile homes that exempts an additional $15,000 in value for units assessed at under $100,000. The state would reimburse municipalities for 100% of any lost revenue. Finally, the bill would strengthen a program that provides tax relief for land designated as working waterfront so those who use their own residence for their commercial fishing business would have a larger incentive to utilize the program.

“I’m looking forward to working with the Taxation Committee on this bill come January and would welcome any additional ideas to make the reassessment process less expensive for our constituents,” Ankeles said.

His proposal has support from the rest of Brunswick’s all-Democratic legislative delegation: Sen. Mattie Daughtry, who serves as assistant majority leader, and Reps. Poppy Arford and Cheryl Golek.

Ankeles, who is serving his first term as state representative, is stepping down from the Brunswick council at the end of the year, in part to focus on his legislative work.

He called Brunswick’s reassessment a “canary in the coal mine” and said he has heard from those in communities across the state who are dealing with similar property valuation issues.

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