Washburn tax rate drops after first property revaluations in 30 years

4 years ago

WASHBURN, Maine — The town of Washburn has finished its first real estate revaluation in 30 years and subsequently set a new, lower tax rate. 

Washburn Town Council set a new property tax rate of $23.75 per $1,000 of property value, down from $31, when it met on July 8. Town Manager Donna Turner said the new rate reflects the tax assessment needed to raise enough funds for the $1.4 million municipal budget that voters approved in April.

The town’s revaluation, performed earlier this year by appraisal expert Garnett Robinson of Dixmont, cost the town $91,000 and took the better part of a year, Turner said. It’s a process that many Maine cities and towns will experience, as the state government requires municipalities to update their real estate records and tax assessments. 

“It’s not a fun thing to go through, but it’s something that has to be done,” Turner said. “It puts everybody back on a level playing field.”

The revaluation assessed 1,075 residential and commercial properties and brought the town’s total valuation from $50 million to $66.9 million, right about at the state’s estimate, Turner said. 

“It gets us what we’re supposed to get back” from the state government, Turner said, referring to the revenue sharing, tree growth, veterans exemptions and other property tax-related programs that provide money to Maine towns and cities. 

The revaluation also meant that some people will see their tax bills increase, despite the lower tax rate, due to an increase in their valuations. But many will not be affected or will see lower tax bills, Turner said. 

The new overall assessment ended up reflecting what the assessor said is a common result in revaluations, Turner said. About one-third of properties saw their valuation increase, about one-third saw their valuation decrease and about one-third stayed the same. 

“If you have a house that hasn’t had any improvements for 30 years, chances are that value is going down,” Turner said. 

“The assessor looks at every single property,” she said of the revaluation process. “They go in and they revalue every piece of property, every piece of land, every home, to try to get the town valuation up to where the state says it should be.” 

In the last year, the town of Washburn saw a new commercial property and retail store added to its tax rolls — the Dollar General store on Washburn Road. In the coming years, the town will see additional property tax revenue and local employment from the new Penobscot McCrum potato processing plant being built on Parson Street.