Residents this week will receive some of the most expensive tax bills Westbrook has seen, while the Assessment Review Board – expected to see hot activity after the recent revaluation – has at least three of its seven seats vacant.

The Assessment Review Board is responsible for handling citizen appeals of their home’s valuations. After this summer’s first full revaluation since 1991, many residents are seeing huge increases in their tax bills. Some residents have already met with the assessing company to adjust their assessments because of mistakes. Those meetings are over, but residents can still appeal to the city assessor. If those results aren’t satisfactory, they can bring their appeal to the Assessment Review Board.

City Administrator Jerre Bryant said the board has been inactive for more than five years.

“We anticipate that there will be some level of activity because of the revaluation,” Bryant said.

After the recent round of meetings between the assessment company and residents, the city assessor has finalized the new tax rate at $15.43 per $1,000 of valuation, a penny less than expected at the last city council meeting on the budget.

While the tax rate has gone down by more than $8 from last year, the new rate of $15.43 will be multiplied by much higher property values than in previous years, leading to an increase in tax bills. The bills are being sent out this week.

Mayor Bruce Chuluda has made repeated requests to find people to fill the vacancies on the Assessment Review Board, but so far the city has received no responses.

John Bennett and Thomas Perrey, the two at-large board members, have expressed interest in being reappointed to the board, as has the Ward 5 representative, Steve Quigley. The mayor said he has not been able to make contact with Richard Merriman, the Ward 4 representative, yet. Wards 1, 2 and 3 are vacant.

“It’s one of the less glamorous boards, but its services are necessary for the city,” Bryant said.

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