Owner says golf course ‘unfairly taxed’

Posted March 23, 2010, at 11:14 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 12:03 p.m.

DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — Piscataquis County commissioners held their first tax abatement hearing Tuesday regarding a country club.

Judson Gerrish Jr., owner of the Katahdin Country Club, told the commissioners his appeal to the town of Milo for a tax abatement had been denied.

“We think we’ve been unfairly taxed,” Gerrish said Tuesday. His bill reflected new values that resulted from a revaluation of the town conducted by Hamlin Associates of Parkman.

Gerrish said the per-acre valuation of the golf course in 2008, which comprises much of a 45-acre tract, was $1,504. His buildings were valued at $112,750, resulting in a total valuation of $180,450. Based on a mill rate of $25.25 per $1,000 property valuation that year, his tax bill was $4,228.

When he received his 2009 tax bill, he said the per-acre cost had jumped to $6,597 and the buildings increased to $165,730, which resulted in a total valuation of $462,610. The mill rate for 2009 was $19.10 per $1,000 property value, so his tax bill was $8,587.

Gerrish offered 2009 tax comparisons of similar golf clubs in the region, ranging from the 166-acre Piscataquis Country Club in Guilford with a total value of $193,300 to the 80-acre Foxcroft Golf Course in Dover-Foxcroft valued at $333,500.

Elizabeth Morin of Hamlin Associates said the three accepted approaches to value in Maine for large businesses such as golf courses are cost, market and income. She said the cost approach was used in this case because it “most fairly represented” the fair market value. A midrange value of $37,538 per hole was chosen, and that value was reduced further by 30 percent for seasonal use. She said she assessed 20 acres of the property as a developed course at a value of $259,880 and the remaining acreage was assessed as a 1-acre developed lot with the residual land priced as excess acreage.

After the hearing, the commissioners said they would issue their ruling on the abatement request within the next few weeks.

Also on Tuesday, the commissioners adopted the county’s first purchasing policy and did a first reading of the Driveway and Entrance Policy for Unorganized Territory Roads.

The purchasing policy outlines everything from the bidding process to the disposal of surplus county equipment.

Commissioner Tom Lizotte said there should be more accountability for spending public money. Under the policy, any purchase of up to $999 may be made by department heads from approved budget accounts without the county manager’s prior approval. Purchases from $1,000 to $2,499 are subject to review by the county manager and the county manager will make or oversee purchases of more than $2,500.

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