Some property owners in Cape Elizabeth will see changes in their tax assessments next year, but the differences aren’t expected to be as dramatic as those produced by a townwide revaluation seven years ago.

Assessor Matthew Sturgis estimates that assessments will increase for a quarter of the town’s 4,300 properties, remain about the same for 40 to 50 percent and decrease for the rest. Property owners will get their new taxable values in May 2011.

Across Cape Elizabeth, assessed values average 78 percent of current market value. But they range from 60 to 84 percent of market value. Sturgis said the equalization aims to iron out the disparities so the town’s tax burden is distributed fairly.

“Say you had three boats and they all started from the same point and they are all trying to reach the same destination,” he said. “But each of them were several degrees off. They may have started at the same point, but when they went forward, the differences between them grew. That is similar to what has taken place here.”

In the 2003 revaluation, the assessed values of waterfront properties surged. Now, Sturgis said, there isn’t a particular class of property whose values are outpacing others dramatically.

For example, assessed values in a neighborhood in the northern part of town and another near Kettle Cove are close to 60 percent of the market values, Sturgis said.

“What do (the neighborhoods) have in common? As far as the architecture, nothing. As far as the geography, not much. As far as the land use, not much,” he said.

There isn’t a clear pattern because there haven’t been many sales, said Anne Gregory, past president of the Maine Association of Assessing Officers and Falmouth’s assessor.

Part of what’s going on is that home values on the lower end of the market are holding their own as first-time buyers make use of a federal tax credit and other buyers scale back in the down economy, she said.

Cape Elizabeth’s equalization was originally planned for 2008 but was delayed because of the fluctuating real estate market.

The in-house project, budgeted to cost $19,000, is expected to take about a year. It will include an examination of sales data from the last two or three years, visits to some properties and updates of various other data.

Sturgis expects to send questionnaires to some of the affected property owners in late summer or early fall.

 

Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at: [email protected]