GOULDSBORO — The town has granted abatements totaling $12,612 after two dozen property owners complained that their homes had been assessed excessively high — jumping as much as 100 percent in value — by the former assessor. Nearly all the property owners have received refunds or reductions were applied to their taxes after Pittsfield-based RJD Appraisal and town staff reviewed and researched the 24 appeals.
Interim Gouldsboro Town Manager Eve Wilkinson reported Monday that the last of the property owners’ refunds were sent out Dec. 7, concluding RJD Appraisal assessor Everett “Zeb” Pike’s review of the 24 properties in question over the past two months. Two of the appeals were resolved by Gouldsboro’s former assessor Marc Perry before his resignation last September. Many of the initial revaluations did not include Maine’s Homestead Exemption providing property tax relief to individuals who have owned a “homestead property” for at least 12 months and have occupied it as their permanent home since April 1. The fact a building had been removed or another assessed property lacked a well and septic system were among the valid grounds found for granting abatements. Only one of the two dozen appeals was denied.
RJD Appraisal began work as Gouldsboro’s new assessor Oct. 13 following the town’s receipt of Perry’s resignation letter. In his Sept. 30 letter, Perry gave 30-day notice and cited a need to “prioritize my schedule and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of my work as it pertains to my current workload.” Perry also works as assessor for the towns of Hancock, Orono and Columbia Falls.
In his letter, Perry offered to handle any questions and provide explanations for issues arising from his work. He also was prepared to complete and submit the required Municipal Valuation Return and send any tax commitment-related forms to the state auditor for review and complete other tasks in the remaining 30 days.
Gouldsboro selectmen, however, opted to move forward and secure the services of RJD Appraisal. The Pittsfield firm serves as assessor for 62 Maine communities including the Hancock County towns of Blue Hill, Brooksville and Cranberry Isles.
Over the past two months, RDJ Appraisal assessor Zeb Pike has worked closely with the town’s assessor’s assistant, Cindy Lowe, to address the appeals. In some case, they went out and revisited the properties in question. RDJ Appraisal charged a total of $2,400 for the work. The firm charges $600 per visit.
In a cost-saving move earlier this year, selectmen opted not to pursue Perry’s recommendation to conduct a town revaluation at a total cost of $88,000 over four years. Their position is unchanged and no plan is afoot to contract RDJ Appraisal to carry out a revaluation project in the near future, according to Wilkinson.