Board takes no action on property tax surcharge

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WATERFORD – Town officials had little to say Friday in response to a letter from county commissioners suggesting they change their property taxation practices.

Selectman William “Whizzer” Wheeler referred all comments to the town’s lawyer, Bill Plouffe, who is on vacation.

The letter accompanied a tax abatement which county commissioners granted on behalf of the owners of the Bear Mountain Inn on Route 35 next to Bear Pond.

The letter suggested that the town’s taxation practices were borderline illegal, and the 25 percent surcharge on commercial property was unconstitutional. It encouraged other residents to apply for abatements.

Wheeler said during Friday’s board meeting that while town officials did not disagree with the letter, it suggested changes that had already been made, it was prejudiced and parts were libelous.

He added that commissioners did not allow him enough time to make his case.

Inn owners Rickie Hall and Lorraine Blais attended Friday’s meeting and questioned what parts of the letter were libelous. Wheeler would not answer.

Selectmen have periodically discussed getting rid of the surcharge, which amounts to an additional 25 percent on the property tax bill of businesses. After discussing the letter, Selectman David Marston made a motion to repeal the tax.

He needed a second to go forward. Wheeler and Chairman Norman Rust remained quiet.

The motion died.

Reached by phone after the meeting, Marston said Wheeler has indicated getting rid of the tax, though he did not mention it during the meeting. Blais also said Wheeler suggested getting rid of the tax to her.

“My understanding is we’ve already been advised by several sources – county commissioners, (a) professional assessor – that it is unconstitutional by the Maine Constitution,” Marston said.


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