In this Dec. 30, 2020, file photo, a home is seen for sale on George Street in South Portland. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

A longtime South Portland resident is considering selling her blood plasma to cover a potential 50 percent property tax increase.

The revaluation and tax increase is the result of a pandemic-fueled real-estate boom last year, with a 10 percent increase in property sales and approximately 14 percent rise in home values over 2019.

Diane Romano told the City Council in April that the property tax bill for her Willard Beach home could rise $2,500 — a 50 percent increase — under the revalution, and she would have to find ways to supplement her income from her job as an accounting clerk, the Portland Press Herald reported.

Romano told city officials that she could potentially earn up to $400 a month in extra income by donating plasma to help ease the burden of higher taxes.

Romano said that she realizes it’s not a long-term solution, but “until we know how bad it’s going to be, that’s on the table,” according to the Portland newspaper.

Romano’s 1920 bungalow is currently valued at $288,800, and she had paid around $5,100 in property taxes in the past. That could skyrocket to $7,600 after revaluation.

The revaluation outlook for communities around the state has been exacerbated by the surge of home buyers leaving urban areas to settle in Maine. Buyers are willing to pay $50,000 to $100,000 more than the asking price on properties in Willard Beach, according to the Press Herald.

The housing frenzy isn’t just concentrated in Maine’s urban areas though — homebuyers have also bought up property in rural areas such as Rangely and Houlton. These buyers have placed a strain on smaller communities that do not have the funding for public resources to meet the needs of an influx of residents. In Rangeley, the town’s transfer station and post office have faltered under the increased demand, and officials worry that life could become unaffordable for locals.

Communities have banded together to urge local and state governments to place a moratorium on revaluation while Maine remains under a state of emergency, but they have not been successful, according to the Press Herald.

Last year, South Portland and Portland city officials delayed revaluations due to the pandemic, but the revaluations have not been updated for 15 years and overall property assessments have fallen below 70 percent of market value, which could have legal fallout in the future.

Leela Stockley

Leela Stockley is an alumna of the University of Maine. She was raised in northern Maine, and loves her cat Wesley and staying active in the Maine outdoors.