News Feature

Deer Isle
Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, June 10, 2021
Deer Isle draft tax bills hit
Dozens seek changes

by Leslie Landrigan

On the morning of June 1, some Deer Isle residents stood by their mailboxes waiting for the draft tax bill. For the first time in 39 years, the town had revalued their property.

Most property would be worth more since the last revaluation. For example, one home previously valued at $527,000 is now estimated at $1.63 million.

After the revaluation, many property owners were expected to pay slightly less in property taxes, but some would pay much more. Taxes on that million-dollar-plus home, for example, rose to about $12,500 from about $11,000.

Hence the anxiety about the mail.

By Monday, June 7, Town Manager Jim Fisher said about four dozen people had called to make appointments with assessors. The meetings will give them a chance to convince the assessors they made a mistake. Starting on June 10, three assessors were available at a time to hold 20-minute sessions in the town offices.

Vacant land

Fisher said his initial glance at the data showed the value of vacant land tended to increase if it was buildable. Higher taxes promote development, he said in a phone interview.

For example, assessors put the tax on a four-acre parcel of land in Sunshine at about $2,700, up from $1,200 last year. A 10-acre vacant lot on Reach Road previously valued at $1,000 with a tax bill of $20 is now valued at $7,900 with an estimated tax bill of $60.

Taxes on coastal property were expected to increase, but not all did. Estimated taxes on a waterfront home now valued at $3.2 million—up from $1.2 million—fell to about $25,000 from about $27,500.

Property owners have two chances to appeal the new valuation. They can either meet with the assessors and point out mistakes, or they can ask the select board for an abatement.

“I’d much rather they get it over with now,” Fisher said. Asking for an abatement is much more complicated and time consuming, he said.

The 2021 revaluation can be viewed online at drive.google.com/file/d/1541BXyXdfwLOJkC9xZn6Xc7tTlrrMw-d/view.

For the 2020 tax commitment, visit townofdeerisle.org/property-tax-assessing.