City Council voted to increase the mill rate this year to 23.3, up 0.4 compared to last year’s rate of 22.9. Councilors made the decision despite the fact that the city's budget went up by only 0.33% this year.

City Assessor Brent Martin said he proposed the increase because he anticipates the city will receive less money in revenue-sharing and reduced municipal income because of the coronavirus. The city’s county tax bill increased this year, as well.

He said if the city were not expecting a decrease in revenue-sharing and local taxable income, it is likely that this year’s mill rate would not have increased.

Martin has been using an equalization process to assess city neighborhoods and readjust property taxes according to current market value. He said he is seeing taxes increase because the local real estate demand has increased. About 91% of the city has been reassessed.

Many properties were being taxed too little and had not been assessed since 2003, he said. The city uses an equalization process to increase or decrease taxes in a more uniform and fair way over time so residents do not experience a large property tax increase or decrease all at once.

Mayor Eric Sanders said it is better to assess property taxes over time because it eases the increased financial burden on residents.

Martin said Belfast tax bills will go out shortly and with them will be a more thorough explanation of tax changes throughout the city and a projection moving forward of which neighborhoods will likely be assessed next. Residents have 185 days to file for property abatements. Residents with questions about their taxes or facing financial hardships should contact Martin at assessing@cityofbelfast.org.