Tax appeal by Lakeview man denied

LISA SCAGLIOTTI
Correspondent

The Shelburne Board of Civil Authority has denied a property tax appeal by a Lakeview Mobile Home Park man who challenged how taxes have been calculated now that the park is owned by the residents’ cooperative.

“The appellant did not present compelling evidence to justify the BCA altering the total value for each property,” the board wrote in a decision released Tuesday.

Chris Pratt, who lives in the park along Shelburne Road but opted not to join the new co-op, appealed the tax assessments on two mobile homes he owns. One property was valued at $39,200 and the other at $48,200.

The residents of the development formed a cooperative earlier this year which bought the 8.6-acre park from former owner Lake Champlain Transportation Company.

Tax assessments calculated after the park’s sale include a value for each home based on its unique details such as size, condition, improvements.

Assessments also include a land value of $28,700 for each lot that town Tax Assessor Ted Nelson calculated by dividing the $1.25 million purchase price the co-op paid for the park, by its 64 units.

Pratt called the valuation approach a “one-size-fits-all tax policy,” saying that lots vary in size and qualities which should be reflected in the tax assessment.

The entire development is a single parcel on town land maps. The individual home sites have not been measured and surveyed as lots are in a subdivision, Nelson explained, so the arrangement doesn’t allow for calculating specific land values for each lot.

Town Attorney Brian Monaghan reviewed Nelson’s method and said it followed state law for valuing property in mobile home parks.

Pratt contended that, as a non-member of the co-op, he simply rents the lots where his units are located.

“My principle objection to my tax evaluation is that I own no land here,” he said in a letter to the board in July. “I will not pay taxes on land I do not own.”

A committee of the board of civil authority visited the neighborhood in July and recommended the whole board deny Pratt’s appeal.

Ultimately, Pratt acknowledged that he didn’t expect the amount he would pay in taxes to change – if he lost and the co-op was charged the tax for his lots, he expected he would pay for it through his rent. He said his aim was to shift the tax burden to the co-op as a whole.

“My tax appeal is about fairness and justice,” he wrote.

Pratt could not be reached for comment after the board’s decision which may be appealed to the state tax department or court. 

Co-op President Sean Moran said he was pleased with the decision which upheld the new method for calculating tax assessments for Lakeview residents. It took time and effort to set up and explain the new arrangement to residents, Moran said, so he was pleased it did not need to change.

Factoring each home’s land value identically makes sense, Moran said.  “Everybody’s in the same boat.”

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