Brewer begins property revaluation, modernization of process

Posted Sept. 13, 2013, at 3:14 p.m.
Karen Fussell is the treasurer/finance director for the city of Brewer.
Karen Fussell is the treasurer/finance director for the city of Brewer.

BREWER, Maine — The last time real estate and personal property in Brewer was revalued was in the 1960s and the paperwork system of keeping records is outdated, according to city officials. So leaders have decided to begin a citywide revaluation and modernization of the process.

“We would like to stress to property owners that we do not expect drastic changes as a result of the revaluation,” Finance Director Karen Fussell said Thursday. “Brewer’s total assessed value is about where it should be. This is an effort to modernize our system and ensure that all properties accurately reflect market value.”

Properties have been assessed and updated throughout the years but “many things have changed in the city that warrant a review,” said Assessor Steven Weed, who was hired earlier this year.

“The current assessment system is very old,” he said. “The project will equalize assessed value across all properties and bring property information and the assessing system up to modern standards.”

Brewer has hired the appraisal firm Vision Government Solutions, of Northboro, Mass., to conduct the revaluation.

City Councilor Arthur “Archie” Verow said that word about the revaluation has spread and, so far, “I haven’t heard anything” from any residents.

“I’ve been through a couple of these [as the former city clerk for 40 years] and they can get dicey and unruly — you hear from those,” he said. “We’re just getting started.”

Brewer’s assessment data is now separately maintained in anywhere from two to four different locations for each property account, so new assessing software will be installed to update and centralize all the information into one online database, Fussell said.

“The elimination of 4,177 paper property tax cards is just one of the ways this project will enhance productivity and lower costs in the long run,” she said.

The revaluation also will assist with economic development because it’s used as a marketing tool, D’arcy Man-Boyington, Brewer’s economic development director said.

“One of the many benefits the revaluation will provide is the ability to have assessing and tax information available on the city’s website, which is something that developers have been requesting for some time,” she said. “The digital records will also facilitate the geographic information system Brewer is developing.”

Brewer put a link on the city’s website, brewermaine.gov, to assist residents about the revaluation process, which includes a schedule of when residents can expect to see appraisers in their neighborhoods. The process is expected to take about four months.

“Taxpayers will receive notice next year of their revised assessment and have an opportunity to review these with the appraisal company before they are finalized,” Fussell said.

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