Easton beats the odds on mill rate

7 years ago

Despite the often painful property revaluation that led to higher taxes for many Easton homeowners, this year the town has held the line on its property tax rate as last year and the average homeowner will actually be paying a bit less than last year.

Easton is keeping the same mill rate year over year of $17.4 per $1,000 of assessed value.

“It was like something we never thought would happen,” said Easton town manager Jim Gardner.

The town recently ended a two-year, state-mandated property revaluation – the first in 23 years.

Last year, the town reassessed homeowners and farmland, and taxes went up for just about everyone (some doubling) even as the town overall lost $8 million in valuation through depreciation, Gardner said. This year, the revaluation was performed on the two largest taxpayers, Huber Engineered Woods and McCain Foods, two major employers who have long comprised the backbone of Easton’s budget and well-funded local schools.

“The industries worked so well with us,” Gardner said, and they’re part of the reason why the town’s mill rate is staying the same.

Among other factors that turned out in the town’s favor was a school budget with a small increase, lower-than-expected fuel prices for the town’s departments, and the state’s increasing homestead exemption, all of which also offset a 10 percent increase in county taxes.

The tax bill for Easton property owners will on average be about $90 less this year than last, Gardener said.

“Our goal is to hold our mill rate as steady as we can, and if we can go down that’s great,” Gardner said, explaining the town’s philosophy for trying to retain and attract residents.

Already bucking the Aroostook County trend of declining population, Easton is aiming to keep growing its community by pitching it as an affordable place to live, Gardner said. The town government is also starting to sell town-owned houselots around its downtown and in some rural areas.

“The Easton town office has evolved from an office full of historical pictures to an office full of maps that are helping take our community forward,” Gardner said.