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Maine Alliance for Road Associations

The 1% of valuation is a cap on "repairs" only

  • 07 Sep 2021 12:24 AM
    Message # 10991347

    I have not read more than 1% of the 1456 comments about the 1% of valuation as a cap on assessments, but I have read many. Here are my rationales for believing "repairs" only include repairs.   

    Cliff Goodall gave as his justification for assuming that the cap includes both maintenance and repairs this: He stated, "The 1% limit provision incorporates by reference §3101 which in subsection 1A uses the terms “repair and maintenance” together as one and more importantly so does subsection 5. This leads to the conclusion that the annual assessment must not exceed the 1% limit." I got this quote from an earlier discussion forum submission. He must have said or meant 1B. 1A gives a definition of "private way", at least since 2013.

    There is much more in §3101, Definitions, that makes clear distintions between repair and maintenance.

    1B. The first sentence gives limited examples of "repair and maintenance" The second sentence gives a list of examples of  "Maintenance" alone that does not include those things mentioned in the first sentence of 1B. "Maintenance", includes, but is not limited to, snowplowing, snow removal, sanding and ice control; grading and adding gravel and surface material; installing, cleaning and replacing culverts; creating and maintaining ditches, drains and other storm water management infrastructure; creating and maintaining sight distances on curves and at intersections; and cutting brush, trees and vegetation in the right-of-way.  [PL 2013, c. 198, §1 (AMD).]" These definitions make clear distintions between maintenance and other costs.

    §31015.  Gives an example of "other costs", liability insurance, that are not repair and maintenance.

     Commissioner or board; assessment for repair, maintenance and other costs. The Commissioner or board "... may determine the amount of money to be paid by each owner for other costs, including, but not limited to, the cost of liability insurance for the officers, directors and owners and costs of administration."

    This section also mentions "total costs" as a basis for determining fair assessments. "The determination of each owner's share of the total cost must be fair and equitable"

    Yet the 1% part of §3102 speaks only of "repairs" being capped at 1% of valuation-not total costs that are discussed in the section immediately previous to this section. 

    Numerous examples in these statutes make clear distinctions between the terms  "repair", "maintenance", "other costs", and "total costs". 

    The 1% cap concerns repairs only as it reads in the 2013 version of the statute. Since Mr. Goodall's statement appears to have been made in  2011 or 2012, perhaps he was correct then. 

    Now, however, the 1% cap is written to include only repairs.

     

    Last modified: 08 Sep 2021 4:26 PM | Anonymous member
  • 08 Sep 2021 4:33 PM
    Reply # 11018507 on 10991347
    Anonymous member (Administrator)

    That distinction makes me nervous.  I haven't had time to look back through the history of the statutes, but I'm suspicious that one section got amended without someone noticing that the other needed to also be amended to agree with it.  (That often happens.)  We have taken the 1% limit to apply to the entire assessment, not just the portion used for repairs.  However, on advice from attorney Mary Denison several years ago, we have used the municipal evaluation BEFORE deductions such as tree growth.  In order to get that value, you have to get in touch with the town's tax assessor and have them re-calculate the amount back to what it was before the discount.  We've found that this generally puts the value of any lot that's big enough to merit being in tree growth high enough so the 1% limit doesn't kick in.  We do, however, have a number of small undeveloped lots that are valued low enough so the limit does kick in.  We charge the full rate where we can, but note in the minutes when we vote on the amount of the annual assessment that those lots with low values will only pay the 1% - so that's part of our official "formula."  It does seem "fair and equitable," as it prevents charging these small lots at a much higher percentage of their value than we are charging for big houses.

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