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Portsmouth leaders talk about jump in property values, effect on taxpayers

Union Leader Correspondent

September 18. 2017 9:11PM
After a recent revaluation, homeowners in Portsmouth are seeing a dramatic increase in their property values, including these properties on Elwyn Avenue. (KIMBERLEY HAAS/UNION LEADER CORRESPONDENT)

PORTSMOUTH — City councilors learned more about the 2017 revaluation of residential and commercial properties during their meeting Monday night.

At a meeting last month, elderly members of the public turned out by the dozens to express their concerns about being priced out of their homes by the new valuations.

During the meeting, council members considered a resolution increasing the elderly exemption.

For residential property owners between 65 and 74, the proposed limit would be increased to $125,000. For residents between 75 and 79, the limit would be increased to $175,000. For people over the age of 80, the limit would be increased to $225,000.

City officials have released further information that states the median appraised value for a single-family home in Portsmouth is $429,900, and the median sale price is $458,750.

For condos in Portsmouth, the median appraised value is $382,250. The median sale price is $385,000.

The state Department of Revenue Administration requires cities and towns to revalue all properties every five years.

Judie Belanger, the director of finance for the city of Portsmouth, told the council Monday night that the city is obligated to revaluate properties if it notices a dramatic change in values, even if it is fewer than every five years.

In 2014, the ratio of the city’s property assessed valuation dropped to 88.5 percent of market value, sparking a revaluation.

In the 2016 tax year, the assessed valuation was 86.6 percent compared to market value, Belanger said.

For example, on Elwyn Avenue near Little Harbour School, 118 Elwyn Ave. was valued at $502,200 in 2015, according to city records. Under the latest revaluation, it is valued at $600,400.

Next door at 126 Elwyn Ave., the three-bedroom, four-bathroom, 3,484-square-foot house built in 1919 was valued at $482,100. Now it is worth $629,400, according to city records.

Belanger said at the current tax rates for a $412,700 single-family home, tax obligations work out to $6,339 per year.

Belanger said the revaluation is not an effort to make more money for the city.

“That is a very false statement. I’ve had people chuckle when I say it, but it is the truth,” Belanger said. “We’re not raising money with a revaluation.”

Belanger addressed the assertion that some residents have made about commercial property owners not paying enough.

“They are paying their fair share,” Belanger said. She said residential and commercial property values increase at different rates.

Politics Social issues Portsmouth

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