Ossipee businesses upset by increased property valuations

December 12, 2013
OSSIPEE — While selectmen here have taken steps towards improving economic development and the business climate led mainly by the very pro-business voice of Selectman Richard Morgan property tax bills received by some longtime Ossipee business last week don't appear to be very business friendly at all.

At the board's Dec. 9 meeting, James Skehan, whose business Skehan Home Center has been in Ossipee for nearly 30 years, asked for the selectmen's help in sorting out what he called a ludicrous rise in the assessment and resulting tax bill for that business. Skehan told the board that in the period of 2009-2014, his property tax bill is projected to have increased by 250 percent. The value of the 11-acre piece of land his store sits on jumped from a value of $155,000 in 2010 to $543,000 in 2013, despite no improvements or other changes being made to the land, something Skehan apparently learned only when he received his property tax bill last week. Business has been flat for the past several years and one way they have had to cut costs, he said, is going from 22 employees in the past to only nine now. He argued that the property market does not support such a marked increase in his property value.

Selectman Harry Merrow agreed with Skehan, adding that he has spoken to other commercial property owners in town who are upset with a spike in their property values. "Some businesses are right off the wall," said Merrow, but, he added, "There's not much we can do right now." Morgan quickly piped up and said, "That's not true" and, with his fellow selectmen, agreed to set up a meeting with the town's assessor to get clarification on why the sudden jumps in value have occurred.

"You're not alone," Merrow told Skehan. And he was right. Fritz Heckel, of Sias Farm, which is another business that has been in Ossipee for nearly 30 years, saw his property value increase $500,000.

Most recently the selectmen approved appointing an Economic Development Committee who will be charged with seeking out ways to lure new businesses to town. They also approved a plan to offer tax incentives to new businesses that choose to move into the former Lydall building on Route 16 or the former Independent Color Press building and the surrounding Main Street district in Center Ossipee.

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