Assessor Recommends Lowering Long Sands Property Assessments

Ossipee — February 2, 2006 — Appraiser David Wiley has recommended to selectmen that they drop the assessed values for properties in Long Sands Association by $75,000 across the board.

Selectmen reviewed a letter from Wiley, and Cross Country Appraisal Group, L.L.C., at the selectmen’s meeting Monday afternoon. Initially they said that landowners would have to submit individual abatement requests, but following discussion with representatives from the association, Selectman Harry Merrow said the board might consider reversing its decision.

Members of the association had requested an across the board drop in the assessed values after four homes in the neighborhood sold for significantly less than the assessed values. Paul Martel, the Kerrigan Family Trust, John Pusateri and Kishan Tandon all sold their properties at Long Sands within the past year. The properties sold with values ranging from $717,000 to $849,000 including the values of land and buildings. When buildings are removed from the figures, Wiley said the assessed values at which the lands sold ranged from $574,000 to $674,000.

Association member Jean Hansen said the lots in the association are all about the same size and value. And it is that base value of the land for which the association is requesting a change.

The association maintains that since the land values were reassessed up as a group in 1998, when the town decided values there were too low, they should be reassessed down as a group now that the error is going the other way. At that time, the values of properties there were reassessed up by $10,000.

“We were treated differently then. Only our street got singled out,” she said.

Cross Country Appraisal Group is the business responsible for the most recent revaluation of properties in Ossipee.

Wiley wrote selectmen, in a memo dated Jan. 30, that he had reviewed records of four recent sales of properties in Long Sands Association, and now believes the base values for the properties is too high.

In his memo, he said, “During the recent update for 2005 there were no sales on Long Sands during the two years preceding the update. During Fall 2005, there were four sales. When each of these is trended back to 04/01/05 an analysis shows the mean to be $622,367 for a home site and the median at $620,967. It would be my suggestion to use $625,000 for a site value plus excess acres.

“This means the $700,000 value used in the update was overstated by $75,000 per lot. Considering the 28 developed parcels and one undeveloped, the reduction overall would be in the area of $2.1 million assessment which relates to approximately $26,000 in tax dollars.

“To save further time with abatements and possible appeals, it would be my suggestion to make the change globally for that neighborhood.”

After reading the document, Selectman Peter Olkkola said, “I believe the board took the position that abatements would have to be filed individually.”

Merrow said, “I think what he’s saying is each abatement has to be filed separately. There’s a good chance they’ll get it, but they have to file separately.”

Long Sands resident Alice Barrows said, “I don’t understand the rationale. You made several weeks ago a decision based on having no information whether our statements were correct or incorrect. Now you’ve received a recommendation from your tax assessor.” What is wrong, she asked them, with changing their minds?

Merrow said it was too soon to make a decision about the recommendation because selectmen only received the memo shortly before the meeting began, and Selectman Joseph Skehan had not had a chance to review it at all, since he was absent.

“I think it’s premature,” he said, but added it might make sense to make the change on a group basis to alleviate the paperwork from as many as 28 individual abatement requests.

When asked if selectmen would be revisiting the issue at the meeting next week, however, Olkkola said he had already made up his mind that individual landowners would have to file for abatements.

After Hansen reiterated her statement that the land sizes and values within the association are all essentially the same, and that was the area where the group abatement was being requested, Olkkola said he would look over the materials again.

Hansen said the precedent for a group decision was set in 1998, when the values were raised, and association members remember that well. “They were so upset in ’98 when that happened and I think there are still feelings about that,” she said.

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