Scarborough hit with 2nd lawsuit seeking property tax rebates

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SCARBOROUGH — Twenty Prout’s Neck property owners are suing the town to reduce their 2012 taxes.

Nearly 50 other beachfront property owners also submitted a brief April 16 in a lawsuit filed against the town in January. The town must now respond in that lawsuit.

If the suits are successful, Town Manager Tom Hall has said, the refunds could cost the town more than half a million dollars. 

The latest lawsuit, filed April 24, asks the Maine Superior Court to vacate a March 25 Board of Assessment Review decision upholding the 2012 land valuations, and to order the board to grant tax abatements.

Attorneys Jon Block and Bill Dale argue in court documents that former Town Assessor Paul Lesperance unfairly targeted waterfront and “water-influenced” properties in the 2012 revaluation of 754 properties and subsequent assessment increases on 279 of them.

The appeal claims discrimination, violations of property tax law and improper procedure, stating that the assessments and the board decision last March were “legally erroneous, and wholly unsupported by the evidence in the record.”

In the earlier case, more than 40 property owners from Higgins Beach and Pine Point Beach are suing to overturn the Board of Assessment Review’s decision.

The town must respond by May 16.

Lesperance, who retired a year ago and now serves on a per-diem basis, said in the appeals process that his revaluations were based on sales data indicating town assessments were not in line with market values and that waterfront areas had not been harmed by the recession in 2008.

Hall said Monday that legal costs for the two lawsuits have exceeded $100,000, although he believes most costs for the current appeals have already been incurred. 

“We’ll continue to defend the town,” he said.

Shelby Carignan can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or Follow her on Twitter: @shelbycarignan.