GEORGETOWN — State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin has asked town officials to remove 10.3 acres of his forested property from a tax break program that he wrote has created an “unfair distraction” for Georgetown officials, his neighbors and himself.

“To avoid further distractions concerning my property going forward, I have decided to withdraw my aforementioned lot from Tree Growth and apply for its transfer to the Open Space Program,” Poliquin wrote to Georgetown Assessor Mary McDonald in a March 6 letter.

Both programs allow land owners to pay property taxes with rates based on the current use of the property rather than the value of the land.

A 2009 report from the Maine Forest Service, which oversees the Tree Growth program, identified Poliquin’s lots as “one of the most valuable residential lots in the state of Maine.”

At that time, the report indicates that the “current use” value of the 10.3 acres enrolled in the program since 2004 was $3,650.

According to a rate schedule from the Maine Revenue Service, the taxable value of land under the Tree Growth law is based on the forest type that aims to estimate “ the worth of the forest land used for wood production,” with different rates for each county.

Owners of parcels taken out of the program face a penalty unless that land subsequently qualifies for another current use property tax program, including the state’s Open Space, Farm Land or Working Waterfront tax programs.

McDonald said Thursday that the three-member Board of Selectmen accepted Poliquin’s application to transfer his land into the Open Space program with a few minor changes to be made before that application is accepted.

The Open Space program requires that property be “restricted in use to provide a public benefit,” according to a state description of the program.

Those benefits include providing public recreation, scenic resources, game management or wildlife habitat.

Poliquin’s application would enter his land into the program under the category of “conserving scenic resources.”

For valuation of the land under that program, the town assessor is to estimate the fair market value of the land if it remained restricted in use by the Open Space program to determine the property’s valuation.

If the assessor is unable to determine a value using that method, the land owner receives percentage-based reductions to the full assessed value based on the types of public benefits provided.

If the second method is used to calculate the valuation of Poliquin’s property, he would receive a 50 percent reduction in the assessed value, based on the Open Space application to which McDonald said the Board of Selectmen gave tentative approval.

For his enrollment in the Tree Growth plan, Poliquin has received sharp criticism from the nonprofit activist group Maine’s Majority, which began in opposition to Gov. Paul LePage’s electoral victory with 39 percent of the state’s vote.

That group prompted the only public comment Poliquin has made in response to the criticism during a Capitol for a Day event in Madison in February.

In footage recorded by Maine’s Majority, Poliquin responds to an audience member’s question asking if the state treasurer will release a forest management plan required to participate in the Tree Growth program.

Those documents are considered private by the Maine Forest Service.

Donald Manscius, MFS director of forest policy and management, equated releasing those documents to letting a “ neighbor see your bank statements” in an interview with The Times Record.

Poliquin responded to the inquiry with a statement echoed in his March 6 letter to the town.

“When it comes to my tree growth lot, I am one of 23,000 tree growth lots in the state of Maine. Those lots total 11 million acres. Now, my lot is 10 acres,” Poliquin said at the February event, “so I appreciate very much the question and can understand why folks are uncomfortable that we are changing the culture in Augusta but we are going to continue to do it, undeterred, and folks can take shots at us if they wish.”

During the same forum in Madison, Gov. LePage defended Poliquin’s enrollment in the Tree Growth program, stating that the town had not contacted him with complaints about Poliquin’s enrollment.

“And as the governor, the town in which Mr. Poliquin’s land is located has not contacted me that he is in violation of the tree growth plan,” LePage said.

Manscius said that Georgetown officials have not contacted the Maine Forest Service about Poliquin’s property.

At a February meeting, town officials said they felt it would be unfair to single out Poliquin’s property for scrutiny as there are 10 lots in the town enrolled in the Tree Growth program.

“To be fair and consistent, we need to check them all,” Selectwoman Dolores Pinette said at that meeting.

Poliquin has filed nomination papers to run as a Republican for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine. A June 12 primary is likely, as six Republicans have submitted nomination papers to run for the position.

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