GARDINER — While Gardiner officials are socking away money to pay for a citywide revaluation, it is likely the work will not begin before 2026.

“The pipeline for revaluations is filling up fast, because we’re not the only city or town in this situation,” Curt Lebel, Gardiner’s assessor, said Wednesday. “Every city and town is in this situation.”

Lebel gave a brief presentation to officials at the Gardiner City Council meeting about the need for a revaluation, which ensures a municipality’s tax burden is shared equally among property taxpayers.

While revaluations generally happen every 10 years, Lebel said, it has been 15 years since Gardiner’s last revaluation. The need was delayed following the real estate downturn following the Great Recession of December 2007 to June 2009, a period of economic decline when real estate values dropped.

“Things really languished and towns were able to go longer between projects than they expected,” he said.

At the same time, no one was prepared for the sharp acceleration in property values during the COVID-19 pandemic, when Maine properties were in high demand and prices rose accordingly.


Now, Lebel said, when a market sale occurs in Gardiner, the assessed valuation is about half of what the market value is. The state’s minimum threshold for a revaluation is 70%. At 50%, Gardiner is well past that.

“The thing about a revaluation is that it’s all about apportionment,” he said. “It doesn’t really drive the overall tax burden. It’s not a money grab on the part of the city. It’s simply a way to disperse the taxes fairly according to market value.”

District 1 Councilor Terry Berry, who has advocated for setting aside more money in the proposed budget for a revaluation, said the real driver for whether taxes go up or down is what happens in the City Council chamber with the budget.

Generally speaking, Lebel said, about a third of taxpayers would see their property taxes go down, a third would have no change and a third would see an increase in a revaluation year if there were no unusual factors at play, such as higher gas prices that would drive a budget to increase and the tax appropriation to pay for that to rise.

With city officials adding $45,000 to the budget line to pay for the revaluation project, it will have set aside two-thirds of what it anticipates is needed to pay for the project. If he issues a request for proposals later this year, by the time the work is done, he said the project will be fully funded.

“It takes a full year of work by the revaluation company before the implementation,” he said.


“This is the first time we’ve had anyone lobby strongly for your work,” Mayor Patricia Hart said.

“That can change,” Lebel said, drawing laughter.

One consequence of delaying the revaluation is the value of property tax exemptions can decrease.

“The people who receive homestead exemptions or veterans exemptions are going to see an ongoing reduction in that benefit until we get the ‘reval’ done,” Lebel said. “You probably noticed in your tax bills over the last couple of years that the homestead benefit has been dropping a little bit.”

Under Maine law, property owners are allowed under property tax exemptions, such as the homestead or veterans exemptions, to shield a portion of the value of their primary residences from taxation.

Because Gardiner’s assessment ratio — the relationship between a property’s assessed value and fair cash value — is lower, residents will notice they have to pay a little more tax.


Among the other communities now seeking revaluation: Cushing, Monmouth, Raymond, Rockport and Woolwich.

But, Lebel said, Gardiner is not in competition with all of them for revaluation services. Because of the software Gardiner uses, four primary companies will be likely to bid for the contract, and the communities in contention for their services are on the Interstate 95 corridor and the coast.

Lebel is also the assessor for Raymond, and he just completed the request for proposal for its revaluation. Gardiner’s revaluation, he said, would take less time to complete because he has already done one, but the request is not likely to go out until later in the year.

Lebel said his time this summer is dedicated to completing the annual valuation adjustments required for the property tax commitment and for the property tax rates to be set.

Revaluations are different from the annual adjustments assessors make before the annual property tax rate is calculated.

Those annual adjustments take into account changes in value during the year, such as new construction or building losses due to fire or other reasons.

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