Property ownership changes are positive economic sign

10 years ago

    As the holidays come around and the year comes to a close, we in the assessing department are busy updating all the property changes that have occurred in the city’s records, helping citizens with requests and questions, and general file maintenance of the assessing records.
Soon we will begin the process of sending out the information requests to all the businesses for the purpose of reporting the personal property used for commercial activity, which starts the process all over again for us as we work towards the next commitment.
In the 7-month period of April 1 to Oct. 31, 2014, a change of ownership of 126 properties with a value of over $14,000,000 has occurred in the city. Properties of all types from vacant land, tillable land, woodland, fixer-upper homes, older homes, and newer big homes have all had success in the market. I bring this to your attention for a couple of reasons, the least important of which is it creates plenty of work for us in the assessing office as we strive to maintain accurate records of ownership, and to help alleviate the fear of the past recession still being in control.
Increased sales activity is a true indicator that positive things are happening in the city. Secondly, and by far more importantly, is the economic side of it. Every time a property changes ownership there are people at work making those changes happen. Aside from the buyer and seller, realtors, title companies, attorneys, home inspectors, and banks, just to name a few, all participate.
There is another often overlooked item when property sells which is the transfer tax paid to the state. $2.20 is charged on every $500 of value every time a property changes hands. Although there are exceptions, the transfer tax generated by $14 million worth of property changing hands in Presque Isle is $61,600.
Why do we care? The city just passed a budget that relies on income from revenue sharing which is in the state’s control. The state has been reducing revenue sharing payments and using the money to pay its own bills which has in turn increased your property tax or hurt the city’s ability to provide service because they earned less revenue during the recession on sales and transfer tax. It is reasonable to expect that the increase now occurring in transfer tax the state receives, along with better sales tax returns of late, would reverse the need for raids to the revenue sharing payments.
Hopefully our representatives in Augusta sees these improvements and truly represent the citizens’ best interests this time around by restoring revenue sharing to the full amount.
We in the assessing office encourage every property owner to stop in to review their property records here at City Hall, have a chat with us, and ask any related questions that you may be concerned about. We are still working toward having all assessing records available online as soon as possible. Although there is much work to be done to make that occur, it has become a priority for the Department and Management.
Lewis Cousins is Presque Isle’s assessor. He can be reached at 760-2714 or via email at