The Lake, Ten Years Ago

Freedom—December 18, 2023—It’s human nature to remember the past as being better or worse than it actually was. But if you recall lake life being more low-key ten years ago, our 2013 news stories suggest you’re correct.

The start of winter was so sleepy we didn’t publish a news story until February, and it was about the Ossipee Ice-Out Contest. Sponsored by the Ossipee Recreation Department, it promised a new fishing rod and reel to the lucky winner.

In March, Freedom’s Police Chief warned that a daytime burglar was afoot. He said there was a suspect but not enough evidence for an arrest. The perpetrator would be caught, he reassured the public.

May brought the year’s biggest story after Long Sands property owner George Eisener took aim at Ossipee officials with a public letter in the Carroll County Independent. Its opening read: “Do you live in Ossipee? If you don’t, consider yourself very fortunate.”

Eisener claimed, with a good deal of evidence, that Ossipee’s Select Board was meddling in the property assessment process in ways that compromised its independence and penalized taxpayers who requested abatements, especially those on the lake.

The hubbub resulted in the town hiring a new assessor, who documented “inconsistencies” and noted “the coding of neighborhoods and unexplained land condition adjustments.”

In September, the town granted $123,045 in property tax abatements, losing $7,916,200 in assessed land value in the process. Abatements were granted on and off the lake to resident and non-resident taxpayers alike—even those who had never made a request.

The Alliance broke milfoil news in October 2013 by sponsoring a survey identifying 21 milfoil-infested waterbodies that didn’t have an active invasive weed management and control program, a situation the report said was a danger to tourism and property values.

The survey was part of a series of reports the Alliance sponsored to highlight the state’s lack of transparency in its milfoil control efforts and costs at the time. That included the fact that lake communities were paying two-thirds of the cost to control milfoil.

The survey story would be 2013’s hard news finale. As the year wound to a close, Bob Smart wrote about the predictability of the winter lake drawdown schedule, and mused about the potential for a winter flood (not out of the question, he suggested).

Smart also noted that Broad Bay had been mostly ice-covered since Thanksgiving, and there was man-made snow awaiting skiers at King Pine, which was scheduled to open that year on December 13.

Tranquility prevailed on the lake at the end of 2013.

4 Comments

  1. tj236 3 months ago December 19, 2023

    There is significant, additional information related to the fiasco Eisner wrote about.
    The BLBA (Broad Levitt Bay Association) organized a team to provide a plethora of data supporting the assertion that the town of Ossipee was significantly over assessing values of nearly every lakefront property. The select board ignored the data and subsequently the BLBA attempted a class action lawsuit against the town. The towns lawyer fought back by stating the class action was not applicable as each property is unique. In spite of the fact that EVERY tax card assessed 6 tenths of an acre at $400k. After a baffling denial by a lower court to allow the class action the BLBA appealed to the state supreme court. The state supreme courts response was no less baffling than the lower court as they chose to just to not hear the case at all. BLBA’s only option was to file each property owners’ case individually and then try to combine in court. At this point the town could no longer keep the case from court. In response the existing assessor was replaced, and abatements and more realistic assessments were granted.
    It became clear that the NH courts recognize a class action suit against a town, to challenge assessments, would be precedent setting for other regional lake property owners suffering from the same kind of abuse. The courts clearly realize that this kind of precedent could significantly affect the states revenue stream.
    It was an eye-opening experience that highlighted just how the town and state government can all but shut down the people’s right to be heard in the court.

    Although the town “lost” $7,916,200 that tax year it still, ill gained, significant tax revenue from over assessed property values for prior years that property owners could never recover.

    REPLY
    • David Smith 3 months ago December 19, 2023

      Thank you for this most interesting elaboration on what transpired, most of which was not reported at the time (at least by us). Most useful info to have. DLS

  2. Roland Cherwek 3 months ago December 19, 2023

    A perfect example of how the government and courts at all levels circumvent the will of the people whom they are suppose to represent.

    Roland A. Cherwek

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  3. PHILIP CANNEY 3 months ago December 19, 2023

    SO WERE BACK 2013 ONLY 2023 WITH OVER ASSESSMENTS AGAIN. THE LAKE FRONT PEOPLE SEEM TO PAY MOST OF THE OSSIPEE TAX RATE.

    REPLY

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