CLINTON — For the second time this year, Clinton voters have decided against using $200,000 from the town’s undesignated fund balance for a townwide property revaluation.

The Nov. 6 local ballot in Clinton included one referendum question asking voters whether they would approve using $200,000 from the town’s undesignated fund balance to conduct the revaluation. Voters turned down the proposal 762-563, according to Town Clerk Melody Fitzpatrick, who said earlier in the night that election workers were “crazy busy” processing ballots over the course of an Election Day with “good turnout.”

Town Manager Earla Haggerty previously had called the proposed revaluation “long overdue,” speculating that Clinton’s last townwide property revaluation dated back to the early 2000s.

“The whole reason for this revaluation would be more what we call an equalization,” explained Garnett Robinson, whose company, Maine Assessment & Appraisal Services, contracts as the Clinton assessor agent. “We’re trying to get properties back in line with similar properties.”

Town officials had been trying to raise awareness about the revaluation referendum leading up to Tuesday, highlighting the fact that the $200,000 would come from existing funds and looking to avoid a second vote against the proposal.

Clinton previously brought the proposed revaluation to voters in June, but that referendum failed in a narrow 296-291 vote. Haggerty had attributed the result of the June vote to the town’s failure to educate residents about the need for the revaluation.

Haggerty said Wednesday that any town decision about whether to continue pursuing the revaluation rests with the Selectboard, calling it “completely up to them where this goes.” She declined to comment on Tuesday’s vote and said the board’s next meeting, on Tuesday, would be the “first opportunity” for the town to discuss the results.

Selectboard Chairman Jeffrey Towne said Wednesday that this week’s vote “certainly is a very strong rejection” of the townwide revaluation proposal and believed the board now will work with the assessing agent to try to identify and address inequalities in the town’s valuation base.

The town had employed several strategies to raise awareness about the revaluation, including face-to-face conversations, the inclusion of a revaluation educational flyer in this year’s tax bills, information in the town’s bimonthly newsletter, and a public forum Nov. 5 push, according to officials.

Annie Nielson said she voted against the referendum, recognizing that the money would come from an existing account, but expressing frustration that the town continues to pursue the project.

“I just thought it was kind of a kick in the pants,” Nielson said in reference to the town’s push, saying that the proposal will keep coming to the voters “until they finally get it.”

“They’ll get it done eventually,” she added with a smile.

Harvey Chesley Jr. said he voted in favor of the revaluation question “because I think that we’re lagging behind. It hasn’t been done in a while.”

He thinks a revaluation could improve town efficiency and also voted in favor of it in June.

“I wanted to be consistent,” Chesley said.

Robinson, the assessing agent, said in October that the town is missing data about various properties in town, and that in some cases, properties may also be overtaxed now. He expected some property values to increase, some to decrease and some to stay the same in a potential revaluation.

Asked if he worried about his taxes going up, Chesley said he was “willing to take that chance” and called a revaluation “the fairest process to everybody.”

Another resident, who declined to provide his name, was less optimistic about the potential effect on his taxes.

“Taxes are high enough. Why do they need to revaluate to begin with?” said the man, who also noted he has worked with Robinson in regard to his taxes and trusts him.

Several voters seemed unsure about the revaluation question details.

Devon Costigan wasn’t overly familiar with the proposal but voted for it, saying “it could be a good thing” in terms of potentially equalizing values around town.

Another voter, named Mike, who declined to provide his last name, didn’t vote at all on the referendum question. He said he didn’t “have enough of an explanation” and after working a 12-hour shift Tuesday, thought he would leave the question up to people with more information on the proposal.

Fitzpatrick said 24 Clinton voters left the referendum question blank Tuesday.

Matt Junker — 861-9253

[email protected]

Twitter: @mattjunker

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