Maine Municipal Association’s Legal Services Department last week filed a “friend of the court” brief with Maine’s Supreme Judicial Court in Town of Eddington, et al. v. Emera Maine, a property tax abatement case that should be of interest to all municipalities. The appeal involves high voltage transmission lines in the Towns of Bradley and Eddington that were assessed to Emera Maine as a result of a reporting error by Emera staff. The State Board of Property Tax Review granted Emera an abatement on the theory that the error created an “illegality” appealable within three years of the date the tax was committed. On appeal, the towns and MMA argue that under established law the error was instead an “overvaluation” issue, for which an abatement may only be sought within 185 days of tax commitment. MMA argued, on behalf of municipalities, that the state board’s interpretation of the law was incorrect and Emera is not entitled to an abatement. MMA also discussed the administrative burdens and fiscal impact on municipal budgets if the state board’s decision is upheld. A decision is not expected for several months.
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