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November 13. 2012 10:59PM

Gorham property values on decline

GORHAM - A multimillion dollar drop in the town's valuation has caused a jump in Gorham's tax rate, but that doesn't mean all property owners will write bigger checks.

Property owners are being taxed this year at $30.33 per $1,000, up from the 2011 rate of $26.80, but the town's total valuation went down, from $308,622,700 to $273,677,600. The drop is due to a town-wide reevaluation which factored in declining property values.

The amount of money that tax rate needs to bring to the coffers in order to meet the town and school district's obligations is almost unchanged from 2011 at slightly over $8 million.

Robin Frost, Gorham town manager, said Tuesday that for residential properties, "pretty much everything went down," but that "commercial properties maintained value pretty well."

The town rate, she said, went down 20 cents. Homes on the lower end of Main Street saw a drop in value.

For instance, Frost said, one house was previously assessed at $96,700, and in the revaluation was pegged at $68,300.

"Their taxes will decrease about $500," she said.

Not all assessments went down.

Frost said higher-end residential properties in some neighborhoods went up, citing a home in the Stony Brook development off of Route 16.

The house was valued at $269,400 in 2011 and is now assessed at $286,600. She said that owner will see an increase of about $1,400 in taxes.

As to this year's budget season, she said, "We're just busy getting started."

Last year, there was some friction between some budget committee members and town officials and staff.

The tax rate took a big jump between 2010 and 2011, too, much of it caused by a negotiated $10 million decrease on the local WalMart's assessment.

This year, the budget committee is different.

The Gorham Board of Selectmen has also added former town manager Bill Jackson.

"He brings a wealth of knowledge," she said. "I think that's been helpful to the board members."

The 2011 tax rate included the municipal tax of $11.21, $9.68 for the local school budget, the $2.29 state education tax, and $3.72 for the county portion, for a total of $26.80. The commitment from Gorham's property owners was $8,113,889.

The breakdown of the 2012 tax rate is: $11.01 for the town; $12.02 schools; $2.70 state education; and $4.60 county tax.

The total tax commitment is $8,113,190.

The town's tax base is about 46 percent residential, 30 percent commercial, and 20 percent utilities and other.

Gorham is part of the three-town Gorham-Randolph-Shelburne Cooperative School District.

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Sara Young-Knox may be reached at syoungknox@newstote.com.


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