Chamber opposes the amended bill, urges Governor’s veto in letter
This week, LD 1129, An Act Relating to the Valuation of Improved Real Property, was recalled from the Governor Janet Mills’ desk and amended to add reference to the Maine Constitution. The bill heads back to the Governor after it was enacted by both the House and Senate, mostly along party lines.
Proponents of this bill argue that it is aimed at big box stores. However, the bill as amended tells a far different story. This bill as amended affects all improved real property both residential and commercial. To say this issue now is about “dark stores” is not 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 to solve what is essentially a litigation issue at the municipal level through legislation and would trample a taxpayer’s ability to challenge certain assessments.
This proposal automatically favors municipalities at the expense of the property taxpayers’ 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 has signed onto a joint veto letter with MEREDA urging the Governor to veto the bill. If you have any questions, please contact Linda Caprara, senior government relations specialist, by calling (207) 623-4568, ext. 106, or by emailing email@example.com.