Audio recordings of the meeting are available upon request

The regular meeting of the Hancock County Commissioners was brought to order by Commissioner Blasi at 8:30 am on Tuesday, April 11, 2017 in the conference room of the County courthouse located in Ellsworth, ME with Commissioners Brown and Clark in attendance.

Adjustment to agenda:

MOTION: to have brief discussion on email from registry of deeds regarding reward of computer software to Fidlar (Clark/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)

Tax Abatement Appeal Hearings:

8:30 am: Cook / 52 Shore Path Road vs. Town of Dedham

James and Carol Cook / 52 Shore Path Rd / Map 20 Lot 34

The appellant, Mr. Cook, participated in the hearing by telephone.  Matthew Caldwell and Ellery Bane represented RJD Appraisal and the Town of Dedham. Chairperson Blasi swore in both parties.

Mr. Cook presented his case, stating that there had been a 60% increase in his property taxes over the year before, and there had been no improvements made to the property since 2001.  RJD Appraisal addressed the Commission, showing examples of comparable sales in the Town.  They testified that the same formula was used to assess each property.

Break 10:09 a.m.

Back in session 10:19 a.m.

10:30 am: O’Hara / 41 Pine Trail vs. Town of Dedham

Debora and Mitchell O’Hara / 41 Pine Trail / Map 25 Lot 14-01

Mr. Gary Robbins, who identified himself as the property watchman, represented the appellants.  He was sworn in by Chairperson Blasi.  Matthew Caldwell and Ellery Bane represented RJD Appraisal and the Town of Dedham. They were already sworn in.

Mr. Robbins stated that he is not an appraiser.  He referenced a similar property, and said that structure was newer, had a finished basement, and its assessment was less.  He stated that both of the neighbors taxes went down, and the appellant’s went up.

RJD Appraisal explained the process they used for appraising the Town of Dedham real estate.  Caldwell referenced different water lots on Phillip’s Lake- water influenced lots, water bisected lots, and waterfront lots.  He stated the O’Hara lot was assessed as a water influenced lot.  Caldwell and Bane referenced several abutting properties, to show consistent methodology.  Chairperson Blasi questioned how RJD Appraisal meets Maine Revenue Service methodology requirements, and the process for verifying that.  Caldwell explained the process, stating that Maine Revenue Service annually reviews the sales in each town, and reviews the valuations to determine a quality rating, which speaks to the consistency within the valuations, verifying that the assessments are within guidelines.

Break for lunch 11:32 a.m.

Back in session 12:01 p.m.

12:30 pm: Heber / Lunt Lane / Map 36 Lot 104-02 vs. Town of Dedham

Albert and Sarah Heber / Map 36 Lot 104-2

December 8, 2016 was recognized by the Commission as the date of application made by appellant. Mr. Heber presented his case to the Commission, stating that he has had nothing but trouble with the land since purchasing it. He said he was told in 1995 by the town that his lot was buildable, contingent on a successful soil test.  He referenced flooding on his property, due to the lake level being high, saying that his land was 4 feet under water at one point.  Mr. Heber stated the town now tells him that the lot is unbuildable; he claims that it is.  Commissioner Clark informed Heber that the focus of the Commission is very narrow, to decide whether there is enough evidence to determine that the lot was valued too high. He said while he is sympathetic to the plight of Mr. Heber, he needs to present something more substantial to his argument to determine the value of his lot.  Commissioner Brown informed Mr. Heber that he had the right to appeal the decision of the Commission.

Matthew Caldwell and Ellery Bane represented RJD Appraisal and the Town of Dedham.  Caldwell stated that there already had been an abatement granted by the Town.  He explained the process for assessing lots in Dedham, and how a reduction is applied in the event a lot is unbuildable.


MOTION: approve the contract with Fidlar at $3,872 /month for a 5 year term (Clark/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)

Discussion:  Account # 09-30-500 should be used.

2:30 pm: Hamel / Map 38 Lot 31 Lakeview Avenue vs. Town of Dedham

Brian Hamel, Kathleen Hamel, Heather Russell / Map 38 Lot 31

The appellant’s sister was in attendance as a representative.  She was sworn in by Chairperson Blasi.  Matthew Caldwell and Ellery Bane represented RJD Appraisal and the Town of Dedham. They were already sworn in. There was some discussion about the 60 day requirement, and the Commission was satisfied that it was met.

The appellant said the issue is the gravel pit, which had been used as an unofficial dump site, stating it could not be built on.  The appellant wants the valuation lower because of this.

Caldwell, of RJD Appraisal testified that there had been an abatement given for this property.  In the revaluation hearings there had been a reduction of 25%; it was adjusted again to 50%. 

Chairperson Blasi reminded that appellants that the Commission has 60 days to issue an order, and will communicate with the appellants.

MOTION: to adjourn 2:11 pm (Brown/Clark 3-0, motion passed)

Respectfully submitted,

Rebekah Knowlton

Executive Assistant to the County Administrator

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