Saturday, March 8, 2014
By Leslie Bridgers firstname.lastname@example.org
Thirty-four property owners in Pine Point and Higgins Beach are suing the town of Scarborough for increasing their land values, while leaving their neighbors alone.
The suit, filed Tuesday in Cumberland County Superior Court, claims the properties were unfairly targeted in a 2012 revaluation and asks the court to overturn a decision last month by the Scarborough Board of Assessment Review.
The board denied the property owners’ appeal to have their land values return to what they were before they were reassessed.
The partial revaluation increased the assessments of property on or near water for the first time since 2005. Land assessments increased by 16 percent to 40 percent -- what some officials said reflected current market values.
In the complaint, the property owners argue that they are “bearing more than their fair share of the tax burden” because the revaluation “singled out waterfront and water influenced properties for increases in their assessments.”
A review by Maine Revenue Services, however, concluded that “no individual area or categories of property appear to be inequitably assessed in comparison with others,” according to a report written last year by Mike Rogers, supervision of municipal services for the Property Tax Division.
Rogers reviewed the revaluation done by then-town assessor Paul Lesperance after more than 90 property owners appealed to the Board of Assessment Review.
The report said the previous assessments where at 79 percent of market value, and the revaluation brought them up to 93 percent of market value.
The complaint says that the assessments were “based on sales data that was several years out of date.”
The property owners are being represented by attorney John Shumadine of Portland-based law firm Murray, Plumb & Murray.
Town Manager Tom Hall said Wednesday he had heard that the suit had been filed but that the town hadn’t been served.
Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at: