MOUNT DESERT — The total assessed value of privately owned property in Mount Desert continues to hover around $2 billion, making it second only to Ogunquit as the richest municipality per capita in Maine.
Mount Desert added nearly $10.5 million in property value based on sales during the most recent reporting period, July 2012 through June 2013, bringing the total municipal valuation to $2.03 billion.
Sales during that 12-month period averaged 101 percent of the town’s assessed value of the property. Because the state adjusts each municipality’s assessment to 100 percent of average sale prices, Mount Desert’s state valuation for 2015 will drop by $20.55 million to $1.97 billion.
Mount Desert has a year-round population of only about 2,100, but its total property valuation is so high because of the large number of multi-million-dollar summer homes. And that is why the town’s property tax rate is so low, currently $6.78 per $1,000 of valuation.
By comparison, Southwest Harbor, with a permanent population of around 1,800, has a property valuation for 2015 of $589 million. Its current tax rate is $12.86, which is nearly twice that of Mount Desert’s.
Tremont, with around 1,600 year-round residents, has a property valuation for 2015 of just over $503 million. Tremont’s tax rate is $8.75 per thousand dollars of valuation.
Not all towns are what the state considers full valuation if properties values are not 100 percent of full retail.
Mount Desert has, by far, the highest total property valuation of any municipality in Hancock County. Bar Harbor is second at $1.4 billion, followed by Ellsworth at $1.02 billion.
To further put Mount Desert’s property valuation into perspective, it is larger than the total valuation of all the property in Piscataquis County. It is more than the valuations of Auburn, Augusta and Kennebunkport and the combined valuations of Boothbay and Boothbay Harbor, and of Rockland and Rockport.
The state’s valuation of property is used to determine the percentage of the county budget that each municipality pays each year.
It remains to be seen what the planned shutdown next month of the Verso paper plant in Bucksport will have on that town’s property values in coming years, and by extension, its appropriation for the county budget. If the appropriation drops, all of the other municipalities in Hancock County will have to make up the difference.
Bucksport’s total property valuation for 2015 is just over $667 million.