Commissioners extend tax abatement appeal hearing


FARMINGTON — County commissioners voted Tuesday to extend a Pittsfield man’s tax abatement appeal hearing on his Phillips’ camp until Tuesday, May 18.

The extension gives commissioners time to visit the property on Friday, May 14, and allows for submission of additional evidence by both property owner Larry Casey and Phillips’ assessing agent, Robert Gingras.

Casey appealed Phillips’ denial of a tax abatement to Franklin County commissioners.

He says the town overassessed the value on his camp in the woods off Route 142. He also told commissioners he was being treated unfairly.

Commissioners adjusted Casey’s abatement application to reflect what he really wanted. He had put down a request for $200 abatement in the place where he should have put the valuation assessment reduction he wanted of $14,400 from the town’s assessed value of $56,400. That would make the property value $42,000. Casey claimed it was a typo. There are also two sheds on the property.

Casey said he didn’t understand and thought he was asking for his taxes to be abated from $1,000 to $800. He said that he got the runaround from the town and has not been helped through the abatement and appeal process.

Gingras countered that town personnel have been cooperative with Casey and have given him the information requested.

Commissioners believe they have the right to make that adjustment to reduce the valuation for Casey on the application and voted to amend the appeal application. Casey had the $14,400 valuation reduction on the application but not in the right spot.

Casey pointed out that he believes his property, which has running water and inside plumbing, is not being assessed the same as similar properties.

Gingras said that Casey’s property was in better shape than the like properties he mentioned and has amenities such as plumbing and heating. He planned to go visit a cabin in the woods that Casey said was not even on the tax rolls.

Gingras said one of the properties Casey submitted as evidence did not have interior plumbing, running water, heating system, and is a shell inside, which would be assessed lower than Casey’s.

Casey said the occupant lives there year-round.

Gingras said the town last did a revaluation in 2000. He has been adjusting properties by visiting them through the building-permit process since then. However, he said, some people are not getting the town-required building permits and so town officials are sometimes unaware of new buildings being built.

Gingras also told commissioners that Casey has not proved the value of his property.

Casey disagreed.

Commission Chairman Gary McGrane said by state law that it is the burden of the taxpayer to prove that the value should be less.

A professional opinion on the appraisal of the property could be submitted as evidence to show the assessment is wrong, McGrane told Casey.

“We’re trying to be as accommodating as possible. We’re trying to be fair as possible,” McGrane said, but commissioners could not make his case for him.

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