To City Counselor, State Rep. Candidate Valli Geiger

By Phyllis Merriam, on behalf of Mechanic Street and impacted Rockland homeowners | Aug 13, 2020

City Councilor, State Representative Candidate Valli Geiger:

I am writing on behalf of impacted Rockland homeowners, neighbors and friends.

Your campaign poster, stressing the slogan “We’re All In This Together,” gives us hope you would help our community with Rockland’s property revaluations.

Here we are in Rockland, in the middle of a virus pandemic and a broken economy. Now, Rockland has soaring property revaluations and taxes to frazzle us even more. Portland, Cape Elizabeth and other municipalities suspended revaluations due to COVID-19 because of the virus’s impact on the Maine economy. We are requesting the same consideration be been given to Rockland homeowners.

Here is astounding property revaluation data and then a sample of the personal impacts on our neighborhood. The net difference in prior assessed property values and the new assessed values is an increase of over 59 million dollars.

Of the 2,851 drive-by assessments, the value of 0.7% stayed the same, 20.2% decreased in value and 79.1% increased in value. Of the 2,256 homes with an increased assessment, 1,135 (just half of them) had an increase of 20% or more.

Mechanic Street homeowners are certainly “All In This Together.” The average increase of the 2,256 Rockland properties that increased in value is $32,620 or 26.7%. Mechanic Street homeowners (representing less than 1% of the number of assessed Rockland properties) have an average increase in value of $102,025 or 60.1%.

KRT Assessors revaluations should have been completed six months ago to give homeowners time to gather their funds for September’s property taxes, which have yet to be determined by the city.

Property taxes will rise so high that many long time Rockland homeowners, such as the elderly, families and disabled veterans, will not be able to stay in their homes. The city needs to investigate more revenue streams than homeowners’ pockets. We’re not wealthy people. We all live on modest incomes after many years of service to our community.

When my husband and I got our home revaluation we became shocked, saddened and anxious. Neighbors, friends and many in our community have the same feelings. I am a retired social worker who served families and children in need for 44 years. My husband is a disabled American veteran. His Rockland family of six generations worked for this community. We bought his family home, where he grew up, back in the days when homes were affordable for middle class people in Rockland.

We hoped to age-in-place with the help of the VA ramp so my husband can safely get in and out of our home with his walker. The same is true of our neighbors and friends in our close community where we look out for each other.

One neighbor, a retired teacher, has lived in her home for 42 years where she and her husband raised their children. Now she is a widow living on a modest fixed income. Another neighbor, a single person, has to work extra shifts to be able to keep their home, at pre-revaluation costs, where they have lived for almost 40 years. Another neighbor was working until the employer closed their doors due to the coronavirus. Now she finds congress has suspended her unemployment income.

A neighborhood couple, who work full time for modest wages, are trying to maintain their family home of many Rockland generations, to also age-in-place. Revaluations make retiring in their hometown unsustainable. There are many other similar and sadder stories Rockland homeowners can share.

Additionally, landlords will have to raise rents for apartment dwellers in Rockland creating a domino effect of more unaffordable housing. The city council needs to preserve diversity, increase affordable housing, slow down gentrification and give hope to young people wishing to buy homes.

We are all in this together. Please help our Rockland community. We request a public meeting, as soon as possible, for all impacted Rockland homeowners.

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