JAY — The Board of Assessment Review on Thursday set public hearings on Verso Androscoggin LLC’s appeal of the 2013 tax abatement for March 30 and April 1.

The hearings will take place from 5 to 10 p.m. at the Town Office.

On Jan. 6, selectpersons agreed to lower the April 1, 2013, valuation of $814.4 million to $592.9 million, factoring in tax-exempt property. It resulted in an abatement of $829,258.

Verso appealed the decision in late January.

Verso maintains that the mill and its property should have been valued at $460 million for the April 1, 2013, tax year before exempt property was subtracted.

The Board of Assessment Review will open each hearing session in public and  most likely will vote to go into executive session to hear the merits of the case from both sides. Verso claims that all information pertaining to the appeal is confidential and that there is sensitive business or proprietary information or trade secrets that, if made public, would or could be harmful to Verso.

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The town’s Ordinance Establishing the Jay Board of Assessment Review states that the board shall keep confidential those documents which may remain confidential under the Maine Freedom of Access Law 1. It also states the board shall keep confidential information that would impair the competitive position of the person or entity.

The board’s deliberations on the matter will be done in public. If people start talking about confidential information they will have to go into executive session, the board’s attorney William Dale said. He is with the firm of Jensen Baird Gardner & Henry of Portland.

Board members signed a confidentiality agreement Thursday that requires them not to share any of Verso’s information that they receive pertaining to the case with anyone.

“There are consequences in the statute for releasing information,” Verso attorney John Aromando told them.

The appraisals are based on very sensitive information and they don’t want their competitors to get it, he said.

Verso is represented by Aromando and co-counsel Jonathan Block of Pierce Atwood in Portland.

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The Board of Assessors is represented by Gerald Petruccelli and Bruce McGlauflin of Petruccelli, Martin & Haddow, LLP of Portland.

Dale told the attorneys to try and narrow down their differences of procedures before the hearing.

The hearing will also include a Skype session with appraisers because the town’s and Verso’s representatives are from out of town.

The board members voted to have Vice Chairman Ronald Guay, a Maine assistant attorney general, remain on the board to hear the case after Aromando said Verso objected to him being on the board. The objection was based partially on Guay’s involvement in an ongoing lawsuit involving Verso’s formerly owned Bucksport Mill.

Guay said he did participate in a settlement agreement but is no longer involved.  He didn’t see the matters related, he said, and believed he could be fair and impartial in the case. He also believes he has some talent and abilities that could be helpful to the board.

Board members agreed.

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