[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town of Wells 11-6-1990. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Taxation — See Ch. 204.
There shall be a single Assessor appointed by the Board of Selectmen as set forth in 30-A M.R.S.A. § 2526(5). He shall perform all duties and responsibilities provided for assessors under general law. The salary, hours and working conditions of the Assessor shall be determined by the Board of Selectmen. The Assessor may be removed by the Board of Selectmen for cause after notice and hearing. Cause shall not include any disagreement with respect to an assessing practice employed by the Assessor where such practice is generally accepted and lawful.
An Assessment Review Board consisting of five members and two alternate members shall be appointed by the Board of Selectmen, with the responsibility for arbitration of taxpayer appeals and authority to abate assessments in the light of said appeals. One member shall be appointed for one year, one member for two years, and the remaining member for three years, and one of the alternates shall be appointed for one year and the other alternate for two years. During the transition to a five-member board, with two alternates, the new members shall be appointed as follows: one member for three years and one member for two years; if new alternates are appointed because one or more alternates is appointed as a Board member, then one alternate shall be appointed for one year and one alternate for two years. Thereafter, the terms of each member or alternate shall be for three years.
The Chairman shall designate which alternate member will serve in the place of the absent or abstaining member and act on said Board in place of any member who may be unable to act. A quorum of three shall be present to act, and abatement shall be allowed by a majority vote of those present and voting. The Assessment Review Board shall follow the procedure set forth in 30-A M.R.S.A. § 2691(3) and § 5-3 of this chapter. The Assessment Review Board shall annually elect a Chairman and a Secretary from its membership. Vacancies due to death, resignation or other cause shall be filled with a Board of Selectmen appointment for the remainder of the unexpired term.
[Amended 10-1-1992; 11-7-2000]
Hearing procedures. When a taxpayer requests a hearing, he is to be notified of the date, time and place for that hearing in writing and he will also be given adequate preliminary information and time to ensure effective preparation of his case. At a minimum, he will be given the following information, which will govern all hearings. All hearings will:
Be conducted in a convenient place within the Town of Wells, open to the public and to:
Be opened with a presentation of the issue by the Chairman (or Chairman Pro Tem).
Be conducted informally, but under oath, without technical rules of evidence, but subject to requirements of due process. All evidence having reasonable probative value shall be admissible but all immaterial, irrelevant and unduly repetitious evidence shall be excluded.
Allow the taxpayer and the Tax Assessor the option to present their positions for themselves or with the aid of others, including legal counsel.
Give all participants an opportunity:
To present oral or written testimony or documentary evidence;
To offer rebuttal;
To question witnesses;
To examine all evidence presented at the hearing; and
To view the property in issue, provided both parties (the taxpayer and the Assessor, together with legal counsel) shall have the right to be present, and evidence or testimony shall not be offered at the time of the review. Both parties may nevertheless call to the attention of the Board those things which they wish the Board to observe, without further comment during the review. The review may precede or follow the hearing itself as the Board shall determine.
Result in a decision, based exclusively on evidence or testimony presented at the hearing and the observation of the Board on any view taken.
Be permanently recorded, having a written decision (see Subsection B, Disposition of hearing decision) filed with evidence introduced at the hearing. The hearing will allow the taxpayer to establish all pertinent facts and circumstances and to advance any arguments without undue interference. Non-record information that either party does not have an opportunity to hear or see is not used in the hearing decision or made part of the hearing record. The hearing authority shall not review any material prior to the hearing, unless the same material is made available to both parties and their legal counsel, if any.
Disposition of hearing decision. The decision of the Assessment Review Board will be binding on the Tax Assessor and will be communicated in writing to the taxpayer and to the Tax Assessor, Tax Collector and Town Treasurer within 10 days after completion of the hearing. The taxpayer shall be furnished with a copy of the notice of decision and the hearing record and a copy of the tax or assessment record maintained by the Tax Assessor, if requested.
The written notice of decision shall comply with the requirements of 36 M.R.S.A. § 842. The notice of decision shall state that the Town or the taxpayer may appeal the decision in accordance with the procedure set forth in 36 M.R.S.A. § 843 if dissatisfied with the decision of the Assessment Review Board. Appeals shall be to the Superior Court in accordance with Rule 80B of the Maine Rules of Civil Procedure or to the State Board of Property Tax Review. The notice of decision shall specify that the forum for the appeal is the Superior Court or the State Board of Property Tax Review.
Role of the Chairman. The Chairman or Chairman Pro Tem shall:
Make such rulings as may be required during a hearing, unless any member objects, in which case the ruling shall be determined by majority vote.
Swear all witnesses, using the following oath or affirmation: "Do you solemnly swear (affirm) that the testimony you are about to give in the matter now in hearing shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God (under the pains or penalties of perjury)."
Maintain order at all hearings and may exclude any person or persons from the hearing room who are disorderly and interfere with the orderly conduct of the hearing.