Upton voters reject revaluation
As one Upton resident put it, “it’s business as usual,” following the defeat last week of a proposal by selectmen to undertake the town’s first revaluation in almost 30 years.
The vote at a special Town Meeting Thursday evening was 16-14 to reject the $34,000 project, which would also have included the purchase of computer software for recordkeeping. The work would have been done by T.A. Associates of West Paris.
Selectman Bob Brown said the state has repeatedly recommended a revaluation.
“We’re so far behind on what values on what properties are actually worth,” he told residents.
Before the meeting, selectmen had mailed an information sheet to residents. They provided examples of what they said were discrepancies in valuations.
A camp off Back Street with no plumbing no electricity, accessibility only by 4-wheel-drive, no insulation, no central heat and in below average condition, was valued at $35,099, they said.
Another camp/year round home on the same street with water, sewerage, electricity, a full basement, central heat and in good condition, was valued at $39,026.
The information sheet also provided examples of the percentage difference between what properties had sold for in recent years and the assessed values. That percentage, they said, should be at least 80. Most of the dozen examples were in the 50s, 60s and 70s ranges, with a low of 38 percent and a high of 80.
Tax Collector Jim Rector agreed with selectmen. “Everything is out of kilter. I’ve seen many examples of people paying too much and people paying too little. I want to make it fair.”
The town has gotten along with making some of its own adjustments in valuations in recent years, selectmen said.
Former selectman Paul Casey said the town had adjusted land values two years ago based on comparisons to land in nearby Magalloway, which had had a recent revaluation.
But, he said, for the long term the job is better done by a certified appraiser.
Wade Rainey of T.A. Associates outlined how his firm would assess values by visiting individual properties to make measurements and gather other information, such as how buildings were constructed.
But some who spoke were skeptical of the need. One said he did not see the dated valuations as a problem, and that it was sufficient that the selectmen have the power to change valuations when needed.
Brown said he was not comfortable doing that because he does not have the experience.
Rainey also said if the town’s overall valuations fall below 70 percent, the town could lose state reimbursements on tree growth lands.
But some residents said the town does not get a lot of money from the state anyway, and not much would be lost in return for saving $34,000 on a revaluation.
Last year Upton received $16,926 in tree growth reimbursement, according to town officials.
“So if we vote ‘no’ tonight, it’s business as usual, with no big penalty anywhere,” concluded Larry Nelson shortly before the vote.
The vote was taken by secret ballot in accordance with the wishes of the meeting-goers.
The revaluation was the only topic for the meeting, which lasted about an hour and 15 minutes and was moderated by Wendy Hanscom.