“Dark stores” bill expanded to affect residential and commercial taxpayers
Proponents of this bill are arguing that it is aimed at big box stores. However, the bill as amended tells a far different story – it now affects all improved real property, both residential and commercial. To say this issue is about “dark stores” is no longer accurate.
As drafted, the bill would prohibit an assessor from being able to consider issues like deed restrictions, easements, and encumbrances (potentially including zoning restrictions) when valuing similar property with no such restrictions. The amendment to LD 1129 will impact all improved property in Maine, including residential. This bill attempts use legislation to solve what is essentially a litigation issue at the municipal level, trampling a taxpayer’s ability to challenge certain assessments.
This proposal automatically favors municipalities at the expense of the property taxpayer’s rights. The valuation of real property is a complex issue that is intricately woven with Maine’s constitutional mandate that all taxes be apportioned evenly according to just value. This legislation deviates substantially from judicial precedent. The amendment to LD 1129 attempts, unsuccessfully, to codify judicial precedent from a recent law court case.
Municipal assessors should not be receiving special treatment with respect to how certain properties are valued. Other marketplace participants will not be able to disregard deed restrictions or property encumbrances in valuing the sale or purchase price of property. Ultimately, this could impact an individual’s negotiating power. Assessments are best left to the assessor for determining values of property, both improved and unimproved.
The Maine State Chamber earlier attempted to publish a rebuttal of an editorial that appeared in Portland Press Herald in support of the bill, but our requests to have it published went unanswered.
The Maine State Chamber encourages its members to contact Governor Janet Mills and urge her to veto LD 1129: https://www.maine.gov/governor/mills/contact. The “share your opinion” form is located at https://www.maine.gov/governor/mills/contact/share-your-opinion.
If you have any questions, please contact Linda Caprara, senior government relations specialist, by calling (207) 623-4568, ext. 106, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.