June 19, 2018
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Panel denies property tax challenge in UT

By Diana Bowley, BDN Staff

DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — The Piscataquis County commissioners on Tuesday denied what a state official said may have been Maine’s first-ever tax abatement request from a property owner in the Unorganized Territory.

Francis Henry of Norridgewock claimed the property value on his nonwaterfront seasonal camp in the Unorganized Territory township of Chesuncook was too high considering comparable properties, including some with frontage on Chesuncook Lake.

Robert Doiron, Unorganized Territory supervisor of the property tax division of Maine Revenue Services, who attended a hearing on the matter last month, told the commissioners that the abatement hearing requested by Henry was the first one he had attended regarding the Unorganized Territory during his 12-year tenure with the division.

Maine Revenue Services assesses 21,000 parcels in the Unorganized Territory, according to Doiron.

“In my mind, Mr. Henry did not come close to making his case,” Commissioner Tom Lizotte said Tuesday before the board voted to deny the request. Henry did not provide the commissioners any comparisons of like-size properties, he said.

Henry owns a 0.45-acre lot with a newly constructed camp. The lot also contains a former camp now used as a storage shed. The state assessed the property at $79,340, which includes $49,190 for the two buildings and $30,150 for the land.

Maine Revenue Services granted Henry a $4,500 abatement on the newest camp since it had not been completed when the tax bills were mailed, Doiron has noted.

While Henry was pleased with that reduction, he said his property should have been valued around $60,000. He said the older camp should have been billed as a shed. In addition, he said his camp was not on the waterfront and part of his lot was unusable because its grade is too steep.

Doiron said last month that the values are not based on what the buildings are used for but what is located on the lot. Regardless of its use, the older camp or shed is valued at $8,000, he said.

Henry has 60 days to appeal the commissioners’ decision in Piscataquis County Superior Court.

In other business Tuesday, the commissioners gave approval to the Penobscot Nation to replace a stream crossing on the discontinued Roberts Road in Williamsburg Township. The Indian tribe is working with the National Resource Conservation Service to improve the road, which provides access to some of the tribe’s trust lands as well as to the Piscataquis County Soil and Water Conservation District’s Demonstration Forest.

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