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Ossipee board decides against granting Ennis abatement

February 17, 2011
OSSIPEE — The way it was as of April 1 is the way it will be counted for 2010 property tax purposes. That was the vote at the selectmen's meeting here Monday when it came time to decide whether or not to grant abatement to Barry Ennis.

A perambulation of the town line between Ossipee and Tuftonboro revealed that the house and part of the property Ennis has been paying taxes on in Ossipee is actually in Tuftonboro.

Given that the property tax rate is higher in Ossipee, Ennis filed for an abatement of the 2010 property taxes. If granted, Tuftonboro selectmen had agreed to then assess his property in their town and issue a tax bill to collect Tuftonboro taxes.

Monday night, Selectmen Kathleen Maloney and Morton Leavitt voted against granting the abatement while Harry Merrow voted in favor.

Leavitt gave his reason for voting against it. He said he went to the property and realized that Ennis exits his driveway onto Sawyer Road, an Ossipee maintained road. Leavitt said up until now Ennis has enjoyed all of the benefits of being an Ossipee taxpayer and now that his property has been deemed to be in Tuftonboro, for the future he can receive services from that town. Maloney pointed out the Ossipee Corner Fire Department can be there quicker than Tuftonboro so Ennis will continue to receive that benefit through the emergency mutual aid system. "If his house burns Ossipee Corner Fire Department can be there in four and a half minutes, of course it's a minute and a half after flashover, but first," said Maloney.

Merrow argued that there are other properties, including on Brown's Ridge Road and one atop Ossipee Mountain, that straddle town lines and driveways exit onto Ossipee roads from houses in other towns.

April 1 is the cutoff date for property assessing. Whatever improvements exist on a property as of that date each year determine what the property owner will be taxed on. The Ennis property issue first came to light after April 1, 2010. Selectmen apparently had no knowledge until the remapping of the town was done and a survey of the boundary line was complete.

Surveyor Paul King of Tamworth was hired by Tuftonboro and Ossipee to mark the boundary line between the two towns by walking the line and marking points based on existing surveys and using equipment including a compass and GPS. With the completion of Ossipee's new tax maps this year, there were areas along the line not clearly defined by the digital mapping process. King was hired to clarify the boundary.

Ennis got an Ossipee building permit, constructed a three bedroom, two-and-a-half bath cape that was completed mid-2008 and was assessed with the land and outbuilding at $245,925.

The Tuftonboro and Ossipee selectmen are in agreement with King's findings – Ennis's land is in Ossipee and Tuftonboro, the house in Tuftonboro and an outbuilding on the same property is split down the middle with half in each town.

If Ennis disagrees with the Ossipee decision, he has the right to file an appeal with the NH Board of Tax and Land Appeals.

Martin Lord & Osman
Salmon Press
Alton School
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