Opinion: Taxpayers getting burned in Lisbon, local man says
Tuesday, January 28, 2020 - 5:36 am

North Country This Week did not independently fact-check the figures in this letter.

A closer look at assessments and exemptions should be looked at within the Town of Lisbon. Solar panels producing electricity assessed at $2.5 million all tax exempt thanks to the Town not requiring them to enter into a PILOT agreement (Payment In Lieu of Taxes). That’s over a million dollars in taxes for our school, town and county in a 15-year period for the life of their solar exemption.

What’s more troubling is there was a backslash number provided for the panels by the county that had a land value added in 2018 of $88,900. This value was granted the solar exemption even though land value is not exempt from taxation, only the value of the panels. More troubling is these land value evaporated for the 2019 roll.

The land itself where these panels sit are still classified as “rural vacant” with a taxable value of only $17,000. So 25.5 acres with 2.5 million worth of solar panels producing thousands of dollars of electricity is only worth 17k? Why is this still classified as residential vacant land with a nominal value? Solar companies are paying up to $2,000 per acre per year to lease land and usually a 20-year lease. So this land is only worth 17k total that is making $51,000 annually in income?

Fun fact is the owner of this property is the town assessor. Maybe he is new, but from what I hear that’s not the case. According to the County Office of Real Property website it assists local assessors, “The office trains and assists local assessors in the annual preparation of assessment and tax roll.” So why can such an unethical situation go unnoticed? Maybe it helps to be friends with the county director of real property?

A look at the Assessor’s previous residence that just sold in 2019. 8963 County Route 27 in the Town of Lisbon. A taxable value on the 2018 assessment roll of $82,500 and recently sold for $165,000. How can someone have such an error of his own assessment? Does he not know how the interior is? The bigger question is if he can’t get his own assessment right how accurate is he with the other properties? If he’s not assessing himself at full value, then why should anyone else, be assessed at their full market value?

I can’t see how this is fair to the taxpayers of the Town of Lisbon and I especially don’t know why these issues are not being looked? One thing is for certain though the taxpayers are getting burned twice! Not only are the rest of the town paying his fair share, but we are paying him, as the assessor for the town, to do it!

Thank God we have a new town supervisor! Maybe Mr. Nelson can address these issues for us and restore some confidence in local government.

William Wallace