NEW GLOUCESTER — Selectmen on Monday voted 4-1 to approve a tax abatement for Richard Hodgkin of Intervale Road, who petitioned the board for relief of the value assigned to a swimming pool that was filled in a few years ago.

The abatement will only be in effect for fiscal year 2014-2015.

In October, Hodgkin met with the town’s assessing agent, Michael O’Donnell of John E. O’Donnell and Associates Inc. of New Gloucester, requesting a tax abatement for the $14,000 value assigned to the pool in his April 2015 property tax bill.

In a letter to the board, O’Donnell said he recommended denial of the request for this tax year and that taxes for the year had been committed last August.

“Abatement is intended to remedy assessments that are manifestly wrong and discriminatory,” O’Donnell said. “This assessment is neither.” 

Hodgkin had failed to notify the assessing department when his pool was filled in 2009 and has paid the pool’s value in taxes over the ensuing years. 

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“He has been paying for the pool since it was filled in 2009,” Board of Selectmen Chairman Steve Libby said. “This should be granted. It could give us a bad reputation. It is good public relations for the town.”

“My job is to remind you these kinds of adjustments are a slippery slope,” O’Donnell said. “I’m here to give you my opinion.”

In their role as assessors, the board has full authority to grant abatements. Property owners should notify the town when they remove items that carry tax-assessed value, such as pools and buildings.

In other business, the board agreed that a joint meeting on proposed ordinance changes will be held on Monday, Jan. 26, at the Meeting House.

The Land Management Planning Committee has recommended two ordinance changes. One involves amending wetlands regulations to exempt forested wetlands from buffer requirements. The other, a housekeeping item, would make it clear that the existing standard requiring driveways serving three or more lots be built to town standards would apply to private roads as well.

The board agreed to fund two “Sebago Lakes Region” signs to be installed at the gateways of New Gloucester as part of a regional branding initiative. 

When the Gray-New Gloucester Business Association ceased operations in 2010, New Gloucester joined the Sebago Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce. Each year, the town hosts a town booth at the chamber’s annual business fair, held at St. Joseph’s College.

After the board adjourned, they entered into a selectmen’s personnel policy workshop.


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