The Shelburne Board of Civil Authority is expected to issue a decision the next two weeks regarding a property tax appeal that could impact the Lakeview Mobil Home Park neighborhood.
The board met Monday evening to discuss an appeal from Lakeview resident Chris Pratt who owns two mobile homes in the park along Shelburne Road.
Earlier this year, park’s ownership changed hands when a co-op formed by the residents purchased the property from longtime owner Lake Champlain Transportation Company. Property taxes calculated for 2019 are the first under the new arrangement.
Lakeview homeowners’ new tax bills were calculated by the town assessor based on each home’s value plus $28,700, a figure that represents each unit’s share of the land in the park. Assessor Ted Nelson explained that the home values were based on an assessment of the unit’s size, condition and features, so those figures vary from home to home.
Pratt is challenging the land portion of the tax calculation. He contends that each of the 64 home lots varies in size and features such as whether it has a scenic view. He is asking the town to assess each home site separately.
Nelson and co-op managers say the calculation was done to comply with state tax law.
At Monday’s meeting, the board received a written report from a committee of five of its members that visited Lakeview to review Pratt’s property and the park in general. The report recommended that the full board reject Pratt’s appeal.
“On inspection, we do not feel that Mr. Pratt’s properties are being assessed by a different standard than the vast majority of his neighbors,” the committee wrote.
Pratt’s appeal also raises questions regarding past tax calculations for homeowners in the park. However, the site-visit committee noted that a $15,000 miscellaneous value used in past tax calculations prior to the co-op’s creation was not applied this year.
The board discussed the case for more than an hour in a closed, deliberative session. When it returned to public session, Vice Chair Nancy Baker announced that it would issue its decision within 15 days in a letter to Pratt.
Baker ran the portion of the meeting for the tax appeal after board chair Tom Little recused himself from the matter. Little previously owned a unit in the park and said he “continues to hold a mortgage” on it. The Lakeview co-op requested Little sit out the discussions to avoid any conflict of interest and he agreed to do so.
It appeared that the board had reached a decision in its closed session, but it would not comment until it was put in writing.
“It’s my understanding that some additional drafting needs to be done,” Little said when he returned to running the meeting.
The Board of Civil Authority consists of the five members of the Shelburne Selectboard, the town clerk and 15 elected justices of the peace. None of the selectboard members attended Monday’s meeting.
Note: The original edition of this article stated that the BCA met in executive session. That is incorrect. As a quasi-judicial body, the BCA met in closed, deliberative session to discuss and weigh evidence. There are also 15 justices of the peace in Shelburne, not 14. The Shelburne News regrets the errors.