Property values up county-wide



ELLSWORTH — Property values are up across Hancock County, including in Ellsworth, Blue Hill and Sullivan, according to preliminary figures recently released by the state.

Ellsworth’s valuation climbed $50.8 million, 4.7 percent, to $1.13 billion. The county’s valuation overall rose close to 4 percent, to $13.6 billion.

Blue Hill saw an 11 percent jump, from $698.5 million to $775.1 million. Property values in Deer Isle rose $27.8 million, to $531.8 million, an increase of half a percent.

The most property-rich municipality (and the only one valued at more than $2 billion) remains Mount Desert, which gained just over $65.8 million in property value to $2.17 billion. That was an increase of 3.1 percent.

The data is preliminary. Municipal officials have until Nov. 15 to appeal the figures, which will be officially released early next year.

Because the valuation process takes around 18 months to complete, the numbers lag behind actual market values and municipal assessments by two years. That means the 2020 figures, when they’re released this winter, will represent the value of all taxable property as of April 1, 2018.

Valuation is used to help determine how much money the state gives a municipality for schools, as well as how much municipal revenue sharing money a community will receive.

Ellsworth City Assessor Larry Gardner said the state’s figures are “right on,” and that he didn’t plan on appealing them.

It isn’t one project or another that has increased the city’s valuation, Gardner said. “Real estate is appreciating. So that’s why there’s higher values.”

Not all real estate contributes to the city’s valuation, however. The value of the new Jackson Lab facility, for instance, is not included in the state’s valuation because the nonprofit does not pay property taxes.

The value of properties with Tax Increment Financing (TIF) agreements, such as the recently completed Oriole Way Apartments behind Renys, are also left out of the calculations.

Gardner’s most recent figure, the 2020 tax commitment book, puts the value of property in Ellsworth at just under $1.1 billion, very close to the state’s figure.

It’s been more than a decade since the city conducted a door-to-door revaluation assessment, Gardner said.

“But every year I’m looking for those trends,” he said. “If I see appreciation happening in certain areas — like for example waterfront usually appreciates faster than non-waterfront — I keep an eye on that and I’ll make adjustments.”

There’s no set time frame in which a city must do a revaluation, said Gardner. Assessors keep an eye on several markers that indicate whether it’s time to reassess property values, and Ellsworth’s are “really good” at the moment.

“You have to be careful not to be chasing and trying to stay right with market values,” Gardner said.

“In most municipalities you get a handful of sales while they may be higher or lower than the assessed value, but as you see those that’s not a trend,” he added. “The assessed values are pretty stable.”

Kate Cough

Kate Cough

Kate covers the city of Ellsworth, including the Ellsworth School Department and the city police beat, as well as the towns of Amherst, Aurora, Eastbrook, Great Pond, Mariaville, Osborn, Otis and Waltham. She lives in Southwest Harbor and welcomes story tips and ideas. She can be reached at [email protected]
Kate Cough

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