42 % of Town is Tax Exempt

BAR HARBOR — As the town council and warrant committee review a projected 6 percent tax rate increase for next year, focus has fallen on what some have referred to as the “unique” situation the town is in – more than 40 percent of the property value in the town is owned by nonprofit or government entities. By law, these groups are exempt from paying property taxes.


Most of those entities, including the Jackson Laboratory, and the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory, have been here for a long time. While their property holdings are fairly stable, they continue to construct multi-million dollar buildings that, while contributing to the local economy in a number of ways, do not result in any additional property tax payments to the town.

Other organizations, such as conservation groups, work each year to expand their holdings. Maine Coast Heritage Trust, as an example, just this year became owners of a $3.5 million Indian Point Road property. That move will result in a loss to the town of $31,000 in property taxes next year.

The total amount of tax exempt property is $1,051,519,200 – or about 42 percent of the total of $2.49 billion in land and buildings.

The amount of taxes waved for nonprofit groups during the current fiscal year is $2.87 million. That amounts to 23 percent of the total town property tax value of $12.69 million.

Several nonprofit entities, most notably the Jackson Lab, did make voluntary payments in lieu of taxes this year, for a total of $75,000, or 3 percent of total property taxes paid. The federal government makes a token payment in lieu of taxes for land in Acadia when Congress approves the appropriation.

Other than the scientific organizations mentioned above, there are a number of notable nonprofit groups that own major pieces of property in Bar Harbor. They include College of the Atlantic, the Maine Sea Coast Mission, Mount Desert Island Hospital, the Nature Conservancy, and the YWCA.

College of the Atlantic, after factoring in a recent gift from the Rockefeller family of $1.5 million in land, now owns a total of over $28 million worth of property.

The Jackson Laboratory, which is the largest employer in Hancock County with 1,300 workers, owns property totaling in value at $225.23 million.

Three conservation groups – Maine Coast Heritage Trust, the Nature Conservancy, and the Downeast Audubon Chapter – own property totaling $8.96 million in value.

The Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory owns property valued at $11.08 million, while the Mount Desert Island Hospital’s holdings total at $23.9 million in value.

For more political news, pick up a copy of the Mount Desert Islander.




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