May 24—LIVERMORE FALLS — Taxpayers in Livermore Falls who are expecting to receive the full $25,000 homestead exemption this year will only receive credit for $23,500, according to town officials.
Properties are to be assessed at 94% of the town's valuation because of a decrease in the certified ratio rate, according to Paul Binette, the town's assessing agent.
The certified ratio must be used by the assessors to adjust the value of certain exemptions in the town, including the homestead exemption.
Selectmen set the certified ratio rate for tax assessment purposes at 94% on May 17, after the state certified value of real estate sales dropped to 85% of town assessments, Binette said.
Each year, the state tax assessor conducts a study of the ratio between real estate sale prices compared to municipal assessments, Binette said.
The state's valuation lags actual market values and municipal assessments by nearly two years by the time it is final and certified, according to the Maine Revenue Services.
The change this year means a homeowner who usually qualifies for a $25,000 homestead exemption will only be credited for $23,500 because of the lower certified ratio.
The change also effects exemptions for veterans, tree growth, farmland and assessments on personal property and hydroelectric facilities, among other entities.
Next year, the state certified ratio for the town could be in the low 80%, said Binette, who works for John E. O'Donnell & Associates of New Gloucester.
On average, home sales in Maine have risen in value since 2019.
In Androscoggin County, the median price of a single-family house was $165,000 in 2018 and $175,000 in 2019, according data on www.mainerealtors.com.
In 2020, the median sale price increased $30,000, to $205,000. It further increased $35,000 in 2021, to $240,000.
The town has not had a revaluation since 2000, but has $15,000 in the proposed budget toward one.
This year, the state's certified valuation is based on sales from 2019 and 2020, Binette said.
"We have stayed within 5% of 100% certified ratio," said Binette, who started assessing in the town in 2011.
Last year, the developed parcel ratio was at 94%, Binette said, and he certified it to 100% on the board's behalf.
Once it goes below the 10% of the 100% the state requires, Binette needs guidance from the board on the ratio at which it should be locked in.
Selectmen, who are the assessors, had the option of setting the certified ratio between 77% and 94%.
Selectmen discussed the options before they made the decision to go with 94%.
By choosing 94%, the town ensures each taxpayer who is eligible for the $25,000 homestead exemption would realize as much of the exemption as possible, Binette said.
Using last year's tax rate, property owners would see a difference of about $34.80 on a typical tax bill, he said.
The town anticipates receiving about $200,000 more in state revenue sharing this year to help offset any increase in the tax burden.
According to the Office of Maine State Treasurer, it is projected, although not finalized, that the town is to receive $810,961.32 in fiscal 2023, which is July 1 through June 30, 2023.
In 2021-22, the projection for the town was $606,125.