PARIS – A county board granted abatements to property owners in a Stoneham subdivision, but only for one tax year.

The Oxford County Board of Assessment Review reconvened Monday after preparing written statements.

Two property owners from the Harding Hill subdivision were seeking abatements from 2005, and eight property owners from the subdivision were seeking abatements from 2007. The board voted last year to deny abatements for 2006 to 12 Harding Hill property owners.

The board voted 3-2 to grant abatements on the properties of Joe Grillo and Gail Meka for 2005. The board decided to reduce the assessed values for that year to their sales values and grant abatements based on the new value.

The Grillo property was purchased for $62,500 and assessed at $69,427. The Meka property was purchased for $120,000 and assessed at $155,606. The board granted a $90.05 abatement to the Grillos and a $462.88 abatement to the Mekas.

Chairman Norm Ferguson said the 2005 assessment was “unique to the Harding Hill property” and unequal when compared to underassessed properties on Horseshoe Pond. Ferguson said discrimination can occur in taxation if a property is taxed equitably while other properties are assessed too low.

Meka had argued before the board that Harding Hill was assessed with a different method than other properties in town, and that residents were paying an unjust proportion of taxes in comparison to the waterfront properties.

Board member Jodi Keniston opposed the abatements, saying a new cost schedule was created because Harding Hill did not fit into Stoneham’s existing system.

“This is a common assessing practice,” Keniston said.

Keniston also argued that the values of waterfront properties are constantly changing and did not make fair comparable properties to the subdivision.

Selectman John Collins said Stoneham is continuing to increase values on the town’s waterfront properties.

“Waterfront was doubled based upon sales value,” Collins said.

The board also voted 4-1 to deny abatements to eight Harding Hill properties seeking abatements for 2007. Ferguson said granting abatements for that year would not be consistent with the board’s decision not to grant abatements for 2006.


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