Another Ossipee business complains about steeper property assessment

December 19, 2013
OSSIPEE — "The previous assessors were flawed. If not, they would still be here," said Ossipee Selectman Harry Merrow in response to yet another complaint that the commercial property assessments are out of whack.

Pam Stockbridge from Ossipee Chipping on Route 25 is just one more person on the list of those who got quite the shock when opening the tax bill earlier this month. The land value of property where that business sits jumped from $101,000 to $469,000. Both she and the selectmen confirmed that there was no advance notice that the value would skyrocket.

Last week Jim Skehan of Skehan Home Center came to the selectmen's meeting to question the "outrageous" spike in his assessment. Since then, said Merrow, Skehan has met with the town's assessor and some adjustments were made, leaving Skehan satisfied with the new assessment, though it is still markedly increased.

Lengthy discussion ensued during the Dec. 16 selectmen's meeting about why the sudden spike in several commercially zones property values. Have the properties been grossly under-assessed, is there a technical error, if the property values are so wrong why is the annual equalization ratio prepared by NH Department of Revenue Administration so close to the desired 100 percent? The answers to these and many other related questions will be sought as selectmen try to figure it out. In the meantime, taxpayers who think their properties have been over-assessed have the option of either meeting with the town's contracted assessor or filing an abatement.

Merrow said as a group of community members is in the early stages of stepping up economic development in the town, there are several barriers. These include, he said, the town's zoning ordinance not being conducive to business development, the increased commercial assessments and taxes, and lack of available commercial properties that can be developed.

In other selectmen's meeting news, the board still has not made a decision about which company – American Ambulance or North Conway Ambulance – will be awarded the town's three-year ambulance contract. The bids both companies submitted have been given to the town's three fire chiefs to hash over and make a recommendation.

As for a long-awaited resolution to the high number of traffic accidents at the Route 28 and Route 171 intersection, transportation officials are scheduled to attend the Jan. 6 Ossipee Selectmen's meeting to present the findings of their study of that area and their recommendations.

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