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Selectmens Meeting Draws Big Crowd

At a recent selectmen’s meeting in Conway, over a hundred local residents expressed their frustration about the town's revaluation process that significantly increased their property taxes. Sarah Sullivan-Mallett voiced the collective displeasure, criticizing the timing of the revaluation during a booming market and its impact on long-term residents due to the influx of second homeowners. In response, officials mentioned possible tax relief through abatements and assistance programs, and noted the potential benefits of homestead exemptions and a small lodging fee to alleviate tax burdens.

The revaluation, conducted by Marybeth Walker of Corcoran Consulting, was carried out earlier than required by state law due to discrepancies between assessed values and market prices. The base tax rate dropped from $17.08 to $10.18 per $1,000 of property value in 2023. However, this shift resulted in a heavier tax burden on residential property owners as their properties were previously undervalued compared to commercial properties. Walker emphasized that the revaluation focused on market value, not on individuals' ability to pay.

The meeting revealed that residential properties, particularly single-family homes and mobile homes, saw a significant rise in assessed values, while commercial properties experienced a lesser relative increase. This led to concerns about the undervaluation of commercial properties and a potential loss of $1 million in tax revenue. Public questions about specific property valuations were deferred for individual appointments with Walker.

Selectmen faced criticism for conducting the revaluation during a market boom. Deputy Town Manager Paul DegliAngeli and Selectman Carl Thibodeau acknowledged the possibility of conducting another revaluation if the residential market declines. Concerns were also raised about the disparity in tax impacts between commercial and residential properties. The meeting concluded with discussions on potential state-level interventions, such as a bill for a homestead exemption and a lodging fee, to help alleviate the tax burden on local residents. Budget committee chair Peter Donohoe advised concerned residents to engage in the upcoming budget process and reach out to local representatives to support legislation beneficial to the community.

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