Conway Selectmen Nov 12

Conway Selectmen on Nov 12 said they are expecting people to complain about their tax bills. From left Secretary Krista Day, Town Manager Tom Holmes, Selectmen David Weathers, Mary Carey Seavey, Carl Thibodeau and John Colbath. (DAYMOND STEER PHOTO)

CONWAY — Some residents may get an unpleasant surprise when they open their tax bills because short-term rentals have caused an upswing in the residential market, town officials said Tuesday.

The discussion came up during Town Manager Tom Holmes' report to the selectmen. He said the state just set the tax rate, which followed the town's revaluation.

"There's going to be some sticker shock in some areas of town," warned Holmes.

Selectman Mary Carey Seavey noted during another part of the meeting that she's already received 13 calls from people concerned about how high their valuations are. Most of those people have seen their valuations go up between $50,000 and $100,000, she said.

During public comment, Municipal Budget Committee Chairman Jim LeFebvre asked Holmes for more information about the impact of the revaluation.

"I believe these will be the largest increase some people have ever seen," said Holmes. "What I'm hearing is that in those neighborhoods that are particularly attractive to short-term rentals, the demand for them have driven up home prices."

Selectman Carl Thibodeau cautioned that just because the valuation went up a lot, it doesn't necessarily mean one's tax bill will increase proportionately.

"My suggestion for the public would be to wait until you get your actual tax bill and compare what you paid last year to what you are being asked to pay this year before you panic," said Thibodeau.

The state Department of Revenue Administration set Conway’s tax rate at $5.02 per $1,000 of assessed property value on Nov. 5.

Last year’s tax rate was $5.86.

The rate including town, school and county went from $19.77 last year to $17.32.

Conway has five precincts with their own tax rates as well. 

Holmes said the tax bill increases will be reflected in the fall bill, and spring bill will be lower.

The commercial values have not gone up as much, Holmes said.

Taxes are also affected by town spending. As of now, the proposed 2020 town budget is up 2.6 percent, but changes could be made before residents vote in April.

"As a citizen, not as any representative of the budget committee, I would encourage you all to do whatever you can to keep those tax rates as low as possible because we are going to see people who are going to struggle this year," LeFebvre told town officials.

Town tax cards went online in October. They can be found at the town website, conwaynh.org, by clicking on the home page, then clicking on "ON-LINE" where it says "Property Tax Cards are now ON-LINE." Access is free.

Last month, Tax Assessor Dale Schofield said the value of the properties in town have gone up by 19 percent over last year from about $1.47 billion to $1.74 billion. Some of the increase is due to new construction, and some is due to the revaluation.

Every five years, the town is obligated to do a revaluation.

Schofield stressed that results for individual properties will vary.

"In a revaluation period, not every class of property goes up at the same rate; some go up a little bit, some go up a lota-bit," she said. "And then some actually go down."

Schofield noted that the market for residential property is hotter than the market for commercial properties.

Also Tuesday, Holmes said a legislative bill that the town is backing, which would allow the town to cite owners of disorderly households, is heading to the floor of the House. A supposed benefit of this bill is it would create a mechanism for the town to crack down on party houses, some of which are short-term rentals.

This story has been changed to update to correct out of date information from the DRA about Conway's tax rates.

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