Discount stands in the mall, the appeal board is holding


ELLSWORTH – A 2019-2020 property tax allowance requested for the Maine Coast shopping center which was partially granted by the appeal board in September 2020 was again submitted to the board on July 26. Mall owner Union River Associates Realty Holdings LLC said his 2020-21 tax bill did not reflect the reduced membership fee granted. They also wanted further reduction due to the impact of COVID-19 on the business value of the property.

For fiscal year 2019-20, the city valued the property at approximately $ 14.5 million. Union River Associates requested a reduction of $ 7.3 million, but the Appeal Board only granted a reduction of $ 2 million. The partial abatement would have saved the company about $ 40,000 in annual property taxes, according to city assessor Larry Gardner. But Union River Associates has appealed the local decision to the state appeals board, which has yet to rule on the case. With the state’s decision unknown, Gardner retained its original assessed value for 2020-2021.

“Our position is that we are entitled to the abatement as reflected in the assessment,” Union River Associates representative Ted Smalls told the appeal board. “At the bare minimum, there is no reason that April 1, 2021 [bill] must not at least reflect the allowance granted.

Appeal Board Chairman Jeffrey Toothaker agreed.

“Whether you appeal or not, that number should increase…. You pay taxes on what is allocated to you and you adjust it as you go, ”he said. “It’s just as I see it.”

The 2019-2020 estimate of $ 11.5 million was about $ 71 per square foot, which the appeals board reduced to about $ 55 per square foot. At the time, Steve Salsbury, a member of the Appeal Board, said the value per square foot “was comparable to your peers in Ellsworth.”

After the meeting, Gardner said he had not seen any evidence presented by Union River Associates that would seek a property tax cut.

“I actually think I’m a little low,” he said, assessing the property’s value.

Gardner said Union River Associates used the value of the rental fee to request the reduction and that “it doesn’t work in Maine. We base it on the market value.

Market value, also known as fee simple, considers the absolute value of a property, while rental fee value allocates part of the property’s value among tenants.

Gardner said it was becoming standard procedure for large business owners to seek tax breaks from local governments.

“They are multi-million dollar owners,” he said. “Part of their job is to cut expenses. If they can lower their tax bill, that’s an expense.

A denied reduction request from Walgreens has just been forwarded to the state appeals board. Walmart is also appealing its state-level assessment, after city council refused to halve the big-box store’s assessed value, which would roughly halve its $ 361,000 tax bill. Meanwhile, Home Depot, Patten Pond Camping Resort and the YMCA-operated daycare center on Beechland Road have all requested abatements for 2020-2021. They have been turned down and so far none have appealed.

Gardner may disagree with the appeal board’s decision regarding Union River Associates, but in his 21 years as an assessor, he never appealed a board decision. local call.

“They are members of the community,” he says. “If they decide something, I should find it really, really terrible before I appeal the decision.”

The board of directors unanimously approved an interim order to maintain the lower assessed value of the Maine Coast Mall for 2020-2021. Union River Associates plans to return for a new reduction request based on lower incomes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Journalist Anne Berleant covers news and reporting in Ellsworth, Mariaville, Otis, Amherst, Aurora, Great Pond and Osborn. When not reporting, find her hiking the local trails, reading, or watching professional tennis. Email him at [email protected]
Anne Berléant

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