Tuftonboro resident reports being denied as Ossipee abatement


March 03, 2011
TUFTONBORO — Barry Ennis came to the Tuftonboro Board of Selectmen meeting last Monday night, Feb. 28, to apprise them of the Ossipee Board of Selectmen's decision to deny him an abatement for taxes he paid to Ossipee for property that is in Tuftonboro.

Ennis says he became aware of the decision when a friend showed him an article in the Carroll County Independent reporting on the Ossipee selectmen's meeting. Their decision precludes him from paying taxes in Tuftonboro, which are considerably lower.

Of his two parcels of land, one is in Ossipee; in the other, some of the land is in Ossipee, but his house, built in 2008, is actually fully located in Tuftonboro, a fact revealed by a recent perambulation of town boundaries and verified by Tuftonboro's Tax Collector, Jackie Rollins.

The Tuftonboro Board of Selectmen met with the Ossipee board on Jan. 10 to discuss the matter. It was decided at that meeting that Ennis should file for an abatement.

As reported, the opinions given in a subsequent board meeting by two of the three Ossipee selectmen, Morton Leavitt and Kathleen Maloney, for voting against the abatement, were that Ennis's driveway exits onto a road plowed by Ossipee, so therefore he has received the benefits of being considered an Ossipee resident, and that if Ennis' house were to burn, Ossipee would get there first.

The road is a Tuftonboro road, however. Selectman Bill Stockman said that the plowing arrangement is reciprocal, as is typical. Tuftonboro, for example, plows all of Durgin Road, though some of it is in Ossipee. Taxes are not determined by who plows the road.

Ennis added that all his neighbors exit onto that same road and they don't pay taxes to Ossipee.

As far as response time and who would get there first in the event of a fire, Fire and Rescue Chief Adam Thompson told the board that Tuftonboro typically gets to calls in Ennis' area first, not Ossipee, as Maloney claimed, for it keeps an engine at Winner's Circle Farm.

"It's a money grab," said Ennis, " and it's just not right." According to Rollins, it is too late this year for Ennis to pay taxes in Tuftonboro, for the town cannot bill someone who has already paid taxes on the property to another town.

Ennis said he called the NH Board of Land and Tax Appeals and was told he would need to seek legal counsel if he decided to pursue the matter, so he has done so, though it was not something he wanted to do. "I could use the money," said Ennis. "I'm a builder and business has been stinky the last two years."

Selectman Dan Duffy shook his head and said, " I thought we had this fixed." Stockman said that perhaps this time "we should invite them (the Ossipee selectmen) to spend a few hours and come visit us to talk this over." Chairman Carolyn Sundquist said that she would talk to Dave Wiley, the tax assessor for both towns.

Fire and Rescue report

The number of calls for service are well above this time last year, according to Chief Thompson. Of the 61 calls so far, 32 were medical, 28 were fire and one was a service call. The department also performed one woodstove and four gas and oil inspections. Smoke detectors are available for residents.

The twice-yearly state inspection process of all apparatus has begun. Thompson reported that Engine 4 has had its air compressor, part of the brake system, replaced as a result of recent findings.

He said that a resident questioned why he and Lt. Caleb Pike work the same days, so he explained that most tasks require two people to complete safely and efficiently. One of them is usually doing inspections maintenance while the other fulfills administrative duties. During weekdays, there are fewer call members available, but with the two of them available, residents have two medically-trained personnel on hand who can also drive and operate the equipment.

Pike takes Fridays off and the chief works Monday through Friday, "trying to take Thursdays off." On weekends, officers rotate on call duty. They are not paid for being on call. They are only paid if they are called upon to respond to an issue.

Thompson remarked on the amount of time dedicated to the process of developing the plans for a new public safety facility and clearly hopes that this time the committee's warrant article will pass. See Thompson's separate article on Frequently Asked Questions about the public safety building project.

Other business

Mike Izard of the Lakes Region Scenic and Cultural Byways Committee asked the selectmen if Tuftonboro would like to participate in an exploratory committee comprised, so far, of nine of 13 towns around the lake that are part of the 97 miles of scenic byways circling Lake Winnipesaukee. The board was enthusiastic and is looking for a volunteer to attend meetings in which input will be sought from towns in preparation for the writing of a grant for federal highway dollars.

Selectmen signed an agreement to allow Codes Officer Jack Parsons to share town data relating to E911 emergency services.

Duffy brought up the idea of Tuftonboro participating in a spring auction with Moultonborough of surplus inventory in April or May. The other two selectmen approved of the idea. Stockman mentioned that the town is in possession of an aluminum boat that assessors used to use to tour lake property before the town purchased a fire boat. The town shed has several fire department ladders, retired from use when they no longer met code, but still usable in other situations. Stockman said he's see if they can be sold. All departments will be asked if they have things they need to get rid of that could bring in a few dollars at auction.

The town's lawyer working on revising the present contract with the Time-Warner Cable TV Franchise has suggested holding invitational hearings targeted to different groups and organizations to gather concerns and suggestions.

Selectmen discussed the order of presentation and discussion of warrant articles and stated a preference, in the case of the $3.2 million combined fire and police facility, to present and discuss it and move to the secret ballot voting, which will be open for an hour. After 15 minutes, discussion could continue on other warrant articles. The John Simms' proposal, which he says is a backup option in the event that the first article does not receive the necessary 66 percent approval to pass, would be discussed separately.

Sundquist noted that the order may be changed at Town Meeting by those in attendance.

Selectmen voted in favor of accepting $2,500 from the estate of Dorothy Morris designated for the care of the Bennett Cemetery by the cemetery trustees.

Thompson said that her estate also gave $500 to the fire department and was told that is would go into the General Fund under the line item, Gifts and Donations, and that the department would need to spend it within the year.

Upcoming events

Residents are invited to attend open house events at the police station and the two fire stations on March 5 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. where officers will be on hand to answer any questions.

Election for town offices will be held at the Old Town Hall from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 8. The selectmen will hold their weekly meeting there that morning at 9 a.m.

Town Meeting, the opportunity to hear or participate in debate over the town's warrant articles, and vote, is scheduled for Wednesday, March 9, at 7:30 p.m. at the Tuftonboro Central School.

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