Commissioner Agendas & Minutes
COMMISSIONERS SPECIAL MEETING
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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, May 30, 2017 in the conference room of the County courthouse located in Ellsworth, ME with Commissioners Brown and Clark in attendance.
Adjustment to agenda
Motion: Add discussion regarding assignment by the sheriff to MDEA (Clark/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)
Tax Abatement Appeal Hearing:
Welch, Paul & Elizabeth vs. Town of Brooksville
Chair Blasi swore in the parties. Ellery Bane of RJD Appraisal- the assessors agent, Jonathan Pottle of Eaton & Peabody- attorney representing the Town of Brooksville, Brooksville Selectman John Gray, and Paul Welch, appellant.
There was some discussion on the date the appeal was received by the Commission. Commissioner Clark explained that the appeal should be directed to the Commission, and not to the Town. Commissioner Clark then said that the appellant made a reasonable effort even though the appeal was incorrectly sent to the Town.
Mr. Welch stated in the past the methodology that the town has used has coincided with sales. He testified that he paid $600,000 for the entire property in April of 2015. He believes the town’s method of appraisal representing a price more than 2x the market value is inappropriate and arbitrary. Attorney Pottle asked Mr. Welch if he was a certified Maine appraiser, he replied no, he was not. He said the appraisal that Mr. Welch had acquired was for lending (not assessing) purposes; the actual price paid is not necessarily market value. Attorney Pottle said the town’s valuation is presumed accurate, and the burden of proof is on the taxpayer.
Ellery Bane, assessing agent for the Town of Brooksville, testified that they used the same methodology to assess the Welch property, and that the town is under the State valuation process. The state does a sales analysis from the prior 18 months, checking how relevant the revaluation is, and whether it is still functioning. The mil rate in Brooksville is in the single digits. The codes used for assessment coincide with the neighborhood in the town. Bane said in 2014 the land and the building value was reduced, this was applied town wide based on the state sales analysis. Commissioner Clark asked about the sale price, and what impact that should have on the decision of the Commission. Bane said this is part of a mass appraisal process, and they are required to put a just value assessment on any property, to do it honestly and fairly; they cannot change assessments due to sales price- it must be done through finding of fact. Bane offered several properties, illustrating that the same methodology was used- the same base lot price, the same back lot price. Mr. Welch referred to the town tax map, stating it was interesting that some parcels had influence factors that were not applied to his property; he said this was an example that the same methodology was not used. He asked that the Commissioners consider his appeal based on the evidence of an open market sale. Commissioner Brown asked about the price of the appraisal- $654,000. The appellant stated that the fair market value was 600,000 but if he was to list it, he would list it for higher than that.
Attorney Pottle said according to Maine law the assessment of the Town is presumed to be correct, and the taxpayer has the burden to prove that the valuation in manifestly wrong. Bane testified that the methodology works, and the burden of proof simply has not been met in this case.
The appellant stated that he was proud to be a taxpayer, but the procedure is opaque and difficult to follow, although he is happy to do what he needs to in the appeals process. He said the methodology used by the town is problematic in that it does not represent the fair market value.
Commissioner Blasi said the Commission has 30 days in which to issue an order, and if the appellant is dissatisfied he may appeal to Superior Court of Hancock County.
MOTION: approval to hire Ronald Lund of Brewer as a part time on call as needed cook, rate of pay $12.00 per hour with no benefits, not to exceed 29 hours per week, effective May 27, 2017 (Clark/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)
MOTION: approval to promote Ashley Smith to temporary full time corrections officer, rate of pay $13.50 per hour with the benefit of sick time only, effective May 27, 2017 (Clark/Blasi, motion and 2nd withdrawn
MOTION: approval to promote Ashley Smith to temporary full time corrections officer, rate of pay $13.50 per hour with the benefit of sick time only, effective May 27, 2017 not to exceed July 10, 2017 (Clark/Brown 3-0, motion passed)
Commissioner Clark had some questions regarding the length of time the MDEA officer would be assigned, and the command structure of the Sheriff’s office. Sheriff Kane said he still had some questions regarding what his command structure would look like, saying that until some other issues were determined that couldn’t be decided.
Break 10:29 a.m.
Back in session 10:38 a.m.
CA Adkins explained the 2 methods for employees punching in to the new time keeping system. One method is using a hand scan in conjunction with a code; the other method is upon logging on to their computer, using a code.
There was some discussion on the Mt. Waldo tower; the contract with the landowners is developing.
MOTION: that the commission does not hear the Rhyne Appeal based on the recommendation from the Town of Lamoine (Blasi/Clark
Blasi withdraws motion, Clark withdraws 2nd
MOTION: to not hear the 2016 tax appeal for Mr. & Mrs. Rhyne, property located at 66 Pheasant Lane, Lamoine for the reason that we have no jurisdiction to request or direct the Town of Lamoine to revalue the property tax (Brown/Clark 3-0, motion passed)
MOTION: that we discontinue the lawsuit against the department of corrections (Blasi/Clark 3-0, motion passed)
MOTION: to enter Executive Session under MRSA Title 1§405 6(A) to discuss a personnel issue (Brown/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)
RCC Director Renee Wellman gave the Commission a document listing comments from the dispatchers regarding the possible PSAP consolidation.
Ron L. Bealieu auditing RFP review:
Mr. Bealieu is the lowest bidder for the recent audit RFP.
MOTION: to hire Ron L. Bealieu and company for a 5 year term for county audit per the RFP (Blasi/Clark 3-0, motion passed)
MOTION: to enter Executive Session under MRSA Title 1§405 6(A) to discuss a personnel issue (Clark/Brown 3-0, motion passed)
MOTION: to adjourn 1:47 p.m. (Blasi/Brown 3-0 motion passed)
Executive Asst. to County Administrator