Roque Island Gardner Homestead Corp. v. Town of JonesportAnnotate this Case
RIHC, a Maine nonprofit entity, owns Roque Island, 1,242 acres of land, with five houses and numerous outbuildings. Roque Island is a homestead that has been owned by the same family since the early 1800s. In 2010, Jonesport hired a certified private assessor for revaluation of all town properties. The assessor used state-approved assessment software. Its calculations include the character of the neighborhood so that values for island properties are calculated at a lower rate because they are not benefitted by certain services that mainland properties receive. Building values on islands are subject to an “economic obsolescence factor” of 200%, resulting in a greater assessed value than for a comparable mainland structures because of the additional cost of building on an island. Due to an oversight, the economic obsolescence factor originating with the 2010 revaluation was not fully applied to the Island structures until the 2014 tax year, when their total valuation increased by 52% from the previous year. RIHC sought an abatement of $1,305,150 from the 2014 building valuation assessment of $2,609,846, which would result in a property tax reduction of $20,000. That application was constructively denied. The Board of Appeals also denied RIHC’s application, concluding that RIHC’s buildings were being taxed consistently with buildings on islands in other towns. The lower court and the Maine Supreme Judicial Court affirmed; the record does not compel the conclusion that the rate differentiation is unjustly discriminatory.