ABBOT, Maine — Some property owners on Piper and Whetstone ponds received sticker shock earlier this month when their tax bills reflected new values.
For the first time in many years, Abbot selectmen visited every property around the two lakes for assessing purposes. In the past, the assessing involved only a “drive-by” by town officials, according to Jan Ronco, first selectman.
Actually stopping the vehicle and physically visiting each property has not been done in at least nine years, Ronco said. Those visits revealed new additions, expansions and other changes that were not included in the previous assessment.
About 35 property owners on the two lakes met with selectmen last week in an effort to learn more about the new values, Ronco said. Some were concerned about the significant jumps in value while others had questions about the process.
“We feel that we [the Board of Selectmen] have done what we needed to do,” Ronco said Monday. By law, municipal officials are supposed to go and visit the places in order to assess at 100 percent market value. The visits were done throughout the community, she said.
During the visits, Ronco said some upgrades were noted to properties and that, along with factoring in the sale prices of waterfront property, increased some values.
Ronco said many people do not realize the town can’t give residents 100 percent for exemptions, such as homestead and veterans exemptions, if the town is not assessing within 92 percent to 100 percent of the market value. She figures the town is now within that bracket.
No property owners have yet filed an appeal, according to Ronco. To do so, they must file the appeal with the town after the taxes have been paid. The selectmen would then grant or deny the appeal. If the appeal is denied locally, the property owner can file an appeal with the Piscataquis County commissioners. If that board denies the appeal, the matter can be taken to Superior Court.