Newry taken to court over $2.8 million home assessment
Posted June 24-A homeowner is taking Newry to court, claiming her home is worth $1 million less than the town’s assessed value.
The 2009 tax bill on the house, located on Powder Ridge Road, was $23,000.
Newry’s assessing agent, Parker Appraisal of Falmouth, initially valued the home at $3.1 million. After correcting an error in calculating its square footage, the assessor amended the value to $2.8 million.
But based on an independent appraisal, homeowner Sophia Bilinsky of Kennett Square, Pa., claims the house is worth $1.8 million.
A complaint filed in Superior Court in South Paris by Bilinsky’s attorney, Jarrod Crockett, states that the property was the first “high quality home” in Newry on which the recently-hired assessor had conducted a valuation, “and [the agent] was therefore unfamiliar with the appropriate grades used on similar quality homes in the town.”
The complaint also says Newry did not take action on an abatement application on the house until a 60-day period set by law had expired, and a period to appeal to the Oxford County Board of Assessment Review had begun.
In addition, the complaint said, the town asked for more information on the home after that deadline. The information request included construction costs, homeowners insurance policy and rental income.
In May the homeowner did appeal to the county board, and was denied.
The court complaint states that the board cited the fact the plaintiff did not provide the information requested.
Crockett, according to the county board meeting minutes, advised his client it was not necessary to provide the information because “it would not have made any difference, as the application had already been denied by the town’s failure to act in the allotted period of time.”
The assessor responded he would have been willing to reconsider had the information been provided.
In a written opinion, board chair Wade Rainey said, “The assessor asked Ms. Bilinsky for the cost to build the house and this was refused, giving the reason that all her paperwork was in a shoe box and the costs could not be segregated. Asking for a million-dollar reduction in assessed value should be an incentive to give all the information possible to back the request.”
Bilinsky, according to the meeting minutes, had compared the quality of construction for six properties she considered comparable to hers, and argued her home was not built with “as high a quality materials, appliances and amenities.”
On Monday, Newry selectmen declined to pursue an out-of-court settlement, saying the town’s assessor does not believe Bilinsky has a strong case.
And, said Wendy Hanscom, “we can’t negotiate without information.”