NEW GLOUCESTER — The Selectboard unanimously voted Monday night to raise the town’s property tax rate $1.10, from $15.80 to $16.90 per $1,000 of assessed value.

The town raised its rate by 20 cents last year, and the town’s assessing consultant Mike O’Donnell said at the meeting that not raising it again was “not on the table this year.”

“You would not be raising the money that you were mandated to raise at town meeting,” he said. “You don’t quite make it at $16.85.” He recommended rounding the rate to the nearest nickel, so the town’s lowest viable option was $16.90.

Town Manager Carrie Castonguay said in an interview Wednesday that the increase was lower than she was anticipating.

“We were estimating it going up $1.43,” she said,  so “$1.10 is a wonderful gift.”

O’Donnell presented two other similar options to the Selectboard as well.

The board voted unanimously to set the rate at $16.90 per $1,000 of assessed value. As a result, a home valued at $200,000 in New Gloucester will be taxed $220 more in 2019-20.

Castonguay said that “historically, (the tax rate) is all over the place. It varies from year to year. You always strive to keep it level.”

The new rate also provides for an overlay of $23,272.25, a legal provision that allows towns to raise money to cover unexpected expenses, such as tax abatements.

Castonguay said that the town abated over $44,000 last year.

O’Donnell said such an overlay is “on the low end,” as “lots of towns have more overlay.”

Your town is more aggressive about accurate budgeting, so you can kind of have a lower overlay,” he said. 

And with such a large tax increase, he said, “you’re not going to have an appetite for pushing an even higher rate with a bigger overlay.” 

The town will undertake a townwide revaluation this fall.

John E. O’Donnell & Associates, Inc. of New Gloucester will physically review all of the town’s properties, Castonguay said, and property owners will receive letters with new valuation figures.

She estimated that it has been about 16 years since the town’s last valuation and added that the town’s value is lower than what the state estimates it should be: “We’re valued at 82% rather than at 100%.”

With a new valuation, Castonguay said, next year’s tax rate will be better.

“We’re hoping it will go down or stay the same,” she said. “I’m optimistic that it will go down next year.”

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