Back to Fort Fairfield Journal      WFFJ-TV      Contact Us


Fort Fairfield’s Property Taxes Set to Almost Double


Town Finalizing Revaluation, Property Values Arbitrarily Increased While Local Taxpayers Remain Living on Fixed Income, or Less Income Due to Mainstream Media’s COVID-19 Hysteria


By:  David Deschesne

September 9, 2020


   As the town of Fort Fairfield nears the conclusion of its massive town-wide revaluation, some property owners are already receiving notices that their property’s value has increased anywhere from 1.4 times to 2 times its former value - essentially overnight.  What this means is, absent any action by the town council to reduce the mil rate, property owners in Fort Fairfield can expect their future property taxes to be close to double what they were in years past.

   The revaluation process was subcontracted out to Maine Assessment and Appraisal who visited every property in town and adjusted the values mostly upwards.  While there is an appeal process for property owners to challenge the higher value, when it comes to securing town revenues, that process is rarely successful.

   The property tax increase is coming at a time when Maine’s Democrat Governor, Janet “Big Sister” Mills recklessly shut down nearly the entire state economy for an over-hyped mainstream media superstar virus everyone now knows as “COVID-19.”  However, just because the values of property have arbitrarily increased, doesn’t mean the property owners now magically have more money.  Indeed, a large majority of Fort Fairfield property owners are elderly who live on fixed incomes like Social Security.  Many of those who can work, or who own their own business have been suffering from loss of income and loss of customer base so any increase in property taxes at this time would be untenable.

   Perhaps one of the biggest drivers of real estate values in town is the massive influx of wealthy individuals from large population-dense centers like New York City, Los Angeles and Boston who sought out the relative isolation of northern Maine to escape the draconian big government socialist boondoggles that have been created in their cities over the years and are being exacerbated by the recent global pandemic.   Nearly all of the rural property in northern Maine that was on the market has been bought up by out of state money which has subsequently bid up the price of land accordingly throughout Maine’s small communities.  The local people who live in Northern Maine in general, and Fort Fairfield in particular, do not necessarily have access to the level of money the ultra-wealthy out-of staters do, so in the upcoming years Fort Fairfield could witness a slate of property tax foreclosures shifting ownership of property owned by people who have lived in the area all their lives to people moving in from out of State who have deep enough pockets to at once bid the value of property higher and then pay the taxes on that higher priced property where local citizens will be unable to compete due to their meager local salaries and fixed income checks.

   There is only one way to alleviate this problem and keep the cost of property taxes in check.  The Fort Fairfield town council would have to readjust the mil rate to offset the excessive new valuation in order to keep tax bills on par with previous years.  Absent any action by the council, the town of Fort Fairfield could see a boon in new revenues from increased tax bills - even if the mil rate remains the same.  However, just because a higher tax bill has been generated doesn’t necessarily mean property owners are going to have the extra money to pay those bills.

   Apartment renters who do not own the property they live on will not be exempt from this taxation increase.  As their landlords find their property taxes increasing, rents will obviously have to increase to pay those extra expenses.

   “The Town's revaluation has not been completed,” said Fort Fairfield town manager, Andrea Powers.  “The revaluation company is in the process of getting the final information back, with hearings scheduled for September 10th to the 12th and possibly beyond in the Council Chambers.”

   For more information, contact the Fort Fairfield town office at 472-3802.