Expera files last minute abatement appeal

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The former owner of the Old Town mill filed an eleventh hour appeal in its battle with the city over the assessed value of the property.
Expera, which bought the mill at a bankruptcy sale in 2014 before closing and selling a bit over two years later, had sought a huge reduction in its taxes for the mill, claiming the property was only worth about 20 percent of the city’s assessed value. That led to the taxes being appealed, and hearings before The State Board of Property Tax Review; those hearings were held last summer, but deliberations on the proceedings never wrapped up until this winter.

At that time the board agreed an adjustment was needed for 2014 taxes, although nowhere nearly the amount sought by Expera. The board voted to reduce the tax year 2014 valuation by $2,596,888, to an adjusted valuation of $16,963,112. That meant the city would be required to make an additional tax refund to Expera for tax year 2014, of approximately $50,000; had the board ruled entirely in Expera’s favor, the city could have been out $600,000.
The board issued the written version of its decision in early May; it would have become finalized 30 days later if it went unchallenged. Assessor Travis Roy, however, told the Times this week that the city had been notified just prior to the end of that 30 days that Expera is appealing.
The appeal, which will be heard in superior court at a date to be determined later, is not all that surprising. In its short history of ownership of the mill, Expera had an adversarial relationship with the city, refusing to budge in its dealings with officials. The appeal, however, may be spiteful at best. Former City Attorney Erik Stumpfel, who has since retired, said this winter he believed Expera’s chances of reversing the panel’s decision on the underlying valuation question would be very slight.