Equalization Project

Equalization Project Updates

Data Collectors
Our data collectors, Richard & Tim Gingras will be wearing Town of Gray ID badges.  

Richard GingrasTim Gingras

The Town of Gray’s Assessor’s office will begin an equalization program a/k/a (revaluation) during 2015. The purpose of the equalization program is to establish 100% market value assessments for all properties within the jurisdiction. The Maine Constitution states that all taxes upon real and personal estate, assessed by authority of this State, shall be apportioned and assessed equally according to the just value thereof. In order to apportion the tax burden equally, the assessor(s) must establish assessed valuations in accordance with just value. Just value is synonymous with market value. Maine law requires that municipalities assess property at a minimum average ratio of 70% of market value and that the municipalities have a maximum rating of assessment quality of 20. The assessment ratio is the assessed value divided by the sale price (qualified sales). The assessment quality rating is a measure of uniformity among all of the property assessments.

The most recent ratio study for the Town indicates an average ratio of 85% and a quality rating of 11, both of which are well within State standards, however there are some classes of properties that are undervalued when compared to the average and others that are overvalued compared to the average. Additionally, a review of a representative sample of individual property data revealed that the existing property data is incomplete and/or in error for a number of properties. The goal of the equalization program is to create an even taxation base for all property classes.

A common misconception regarding equalization (revaluation) is that the Town is looking to raise additional revenue. This is not true. The tax amount is a function of the net budget (Municipal, County, and School budgets less revenues) and the total taxable value of the Town. If the net amount to be raised is $13,500,000 and the total taxable value is $750,900,000 then the tax rate would be ($13,500,000/$750,900,000) or $17.98 per $1,000 of assessed value. A property with an assessed value of $200,000 would have an annual tax of ($200,000 X .01798) or $3,596. If the taxable assessed value of $750,900,000 is reflective of 85% of Market Value, the total taxable value after equalization would be $883,058,400. The tax rate with a static budget would be ($13,500,000/$883,058,400) or $15.29 per $1,000 of assessed value. If the property currently assessed at $200,000 is at the average ratio of 85%, after the equalization it would be assessed at $235,200. The equalized assessment would yield a tax of (235,200 X .01529) or $3,596.20 at full (100%) market value. 

The rule of thumb for equalizations is; 1/3 of the properties after equalization will realize a tax increase, 1/3 will have a tax decrease, and 1/3 will remain essentially the same assuming a stable budget. Utilizing the current average ratio, properties currently assessed below 85% of market value would see a tax increase, properties assessed above 85% would have a decrease, and properties assessed at 85% would stay the same.

The revaluation process consists of the following:

  • Data Collection of All Properties (Field Visits)
  • Review and Qualification of Sale Properties
  • Sales Analysis
  • Valuation Modeling and Testing (Cost Schedule Development)
  • Application of Modeling to all Properties
  • Field Review and Adjustments  of all Properties
  • Informal Meetings with Taxpayers to Discuss New Assessments
  • Implementation of Final Assessments

The data collection will consist of representatives of the Assessor’s office visiting every property in the jurisdiction beginning in June of 2015. There are approximately 4,600 properties in Gray. Due to the volume of properties it is impossible to try and schedule inspections ahead of time. Door hangers will be left at properties where no one is at home allowing property owners to call to schedule an interior inspection. The inspections will take place by location and we will keep an update on the Town’s website to identify what areas are being visited throughout the process. Representatives of the Assessor’s Office will have picture identification with them at all times. The visit will consist of an exterior and interior inspection. Interior inspections are voluntary, however in the event of refusals, interior information will be estimated.

The exterior inspection will consist of:

  • Measuring the exterior of all buildings
  • Determining the Story Height
  • Noting Exterior Covering
  • Noting Roof Covering
  • Wall Construction
  • Year Built
  • Determination of utilities

The interior inspection will consist of:

  • Room Count
  • Bathroom Count
  • Wall and Floor Finishes
  • Heating System
  • Electrical system
  • Finish Basement Areas
  • Overall Construction Quality
  • Overall Condition

During the Data Collection Process and through the fall and winter, sales will be analyzed, Land and Building schedules will be developed and tested, ratio studies will be conducted and preliminary assessments will be established. During the spring and early summer of 2016, a drive-by Field Review will take place to check for consistency.

At the conclusion of the Field Review, property owners will be notified of the revised assessed values and have the opportunity to schedule an appointment to review the assessment records, sales, and comparable properties. A property inspection may be scheduled to revise any incorrectly estimated data and an amended assessment notice will be issued.

Upon conclusion of the review and any adjustments, the final equalized values will be utilized for the 2017 tax assessment. Questions or comments may be directed to the assessor at 657-3112 or jbrushwein@graymaine.org