It has been awhile since the city of Lewiston has done a massive property revaluation. Properties are reported to be valued at about 82% of current market values. If the merger is agreed to by both Lewiston and Auburn voters this November, Lewiston properties, to insure tax fairness, will have to valued in precisely the same way that Auburn properties are valued (currently 101% of market value).
If the merger is agreed to, the tax rate in the new city of "Lewiston-Auburn" will be broken into two components:
1. a basic tax rate that will generate enough taxes to cover the merged city budget for the current fiscal year.
2. a special tax rate that will pay off the city debt outstanding as of December 31, 2019, the last day of existence of the former cities of Lewiston and Auburn. That special tax rate will remain in effect until the principal and interest are totally paid off.
Since the debt levels (outstanding loans) in the cities are considerably (tens of millions of dollars) greater in Lewiston), Lewiston taxpayers will be paying a higher tax rate for years.
It is the basic tax rate that should be giving Lewiston residential property taxes heartburn.
It would not be fair for a former Lewiston taxpayer to pay a tax rate, the same tax rate that a homeowner in a the former Auburn will pay, for a home that is valued at 82% of its market value, while the former Auburn home is assessed at 101% of its market value. Remember, (tax bill = tax rate x assessed value)!
Assessments will have to be equalized from Outer Sabattus Street across the merged city to the New Gloucester town border with Auburn. A professional firm will have to be hired to do a massive "revaluation" that will take months and cost many tens of thousands of (Lewiston)taxpayer dollars.
In the massive revaluations, it is almost always the case that private homes are hit the hardest. Homes tend to rise faster in value than commercial properties. In the time period since the last valuation, homes have generally increased in value, you can be sure. So we can expect Lewiston homeowners to take it on the chin and absorb a disproportionate "hit" from this re-assessment of their properties.
How many homeowners will be forced from their homes from this "hit?" We wont know until it starts happening. And when it does, it will not be pretty.
Apparently, the Joint Charter Commission is not concerned. They are pressing ahead with their horrific scheme to merge the cities.
A friend of ours recently went through a revaluation in an area town. His property values skyrocketed in the process and he went to visit the town assessor to complain. The assessor looked right at him and said "If you don't like it and can't afford it, sell it."
Welcome to the cold, hard-hearted world of mass tax revaluations! Be ready, Lewiston, it's coming for you.