Auburn may send tax relief checks in response to assessment adjustments


AUBURN — A plan to send $300 relief checks to homeowners is moving forward after recent property assessment adjustments led to higher tax bills for many.

The proposal, presented at a city council workshop this week, would use $1.5 million from the city’s allocation from the American Rescue Plan Act.

City Manager Phil Crowell said after receiving requests from officials to create some type of relief program, city staff looked at options.

The program would most likely use the Homestead state exemption program to determine eligibility.

Crowell said that would apply to around 4,000 owners.

According to Joseph St. Peter, Assistant City Assessor, on average, the $300 check would cover about a third of the adjustment. For some, this could offset the increase they have seen on their tax bill. For others, it might just be a small relief.

Crowell said some owners may have seen increases of $2,000.

The city sent out assessment adjustment notices in early July, saying year-over-year increases in home sales prices were forcing city staff to make necessary adjustments to meet requirements. of State.

Since then, the city has been inundated with inquiries, prompting a response from elected officials.

At Monday’s workshop, Councilor Steve Milks said “most people realize they’ve enjoyed their property” over the past few years, the biggest complaint he’s heard is the lack of warning from the town.

“It surprised a lot of people,” he said.

The city held a virtual town hall on the adjustments this month and will hold a live meeting on the issue Sept. 7 at the Auburn Senior Community Center.

Crowell said if approved by council in September, the majority of checks would be received by residents by November 1.

Brian Wood, deputy city manager, said Wednesday he expected the proposal to be on the September council agenda.

The only concern raised by officials on Monday was creating “an instant $300 raise” for homeowners next year when there is no relief package.

Several officials said it was a signal that Auburn needed to increase its tax base, or face higher taxes or cuts to municipal services.

Mayor Jason Levesque said the program should be viewed as “12-month relief” and officials should use that time to start increasing the tax base.

Levesque said the city’s moves to allow secondary suites and a wider variety of housing types will help.

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