Some Portland residents were shocked to learn their home values have risen significantly due to a city revaluation, fearing the repercussions of increased property taxes.
John Constant’s late-wife bought their home on Munjoy Hill in 1997. Over time, the value and taxes have gone up, but not to this extent.
“The assessment of the house has gone from $175,000 to $640,000,” Constant said.
The city sent out revaluation notices, which reflect fair market value, on July 2.
Even though the city’s estimated tax rate is going down by 42 percent, Constant’s taxes are going up because the estimated assessed value is so high.
“My yearly tax bill has gone from $4,000 to $8,000,” Constant said.
He’s not alone. Robert Summers also lives on Munjoy Hill and his home has tripled in value, according to the city notice sent to him.
“The new monthly tax rate is more than my mortgage payment was when I bought the house,” Summers said.
He pays property taxes twice a year and the $4,500 price tag is a lot for him to swallow.
“That’s almost what I paid for the car,” Summers said.
It’s the first time Portland has gone through the revaluation process since 2006, causing the sudden jump in value, according to city spokesperson Jessica Grondin.
“We were out of compliance with the state. And so obviously because of that length in time, it’s a bigger jump than if we had done it more regularly,” Grondin said.
The city said there was no way to phase in the revaluation. According to a letter sent to the city’s corporation counsel, a lawyer advised against it because there could be a successful legal challenge.
City officials have pledged to conduct revaluations more often in the future.
Grondin said the tax rate is expected to be lower than what is on the notices sent to homeowners.
“We just received word from the state about additional revenue sharing and additional school funding, so that will lower the mill rate even further,” Grondin said.
“The overall response is significant alarm and a good deal of anger,” said Wayne Valzania, president of the Munjoy Hill Neighborhood Association.
Valzania worries the increase will disproportionately impact renters and older residents.
“They don’t have the latitude to just increase their income to absorb increased taxes,” Valzania said.
That would include residents like Constant, who works two jobs and doesn’t want to move.
“I am going to struggle. I’m really going to struggle,” Constant said.
Residents can appeal the new assessed value. It must be scheduled by July 21.
To schedule an informal appeal, property owners can go online or call 877-895-9675. The appeals will be conducted from July 12 to Aug. 6.
The city said once all appeals are heard and decided, new property values will be used for the fiscal year 2022 tax bills. Those will be sent in September, with a due date in October.