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Thursday, April 11, 2013

City may take abatement case with Radisson Hotel to Supreme Court, Nashua mayor says

NASHUA – The city is weighing whether to appeal a superior court decision that may force it to cut the Radisson Hotel an $800,000 tax refund check.

On Monday, Hillsborough County Superior Court dismissed the city’s motion to reconsider the decision in favor of Radisson owner AFP 105 Corp., saying the city had assessed the hotel at nearly more than double its value. ...

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NASHUA – The city is weighing whether to appeal a superior court decision that may force it to cut the Radisson Hotel an $800,000 tax refund check.

On Monday, Hillsborough County Superior Court dismissed the city’s motion to reconsider the decision in favor of Radisson owner AFP 105 Corp., saying the city had assessed the hotel at nearly more than double its value.

“We expect the court to say, ‘No, we think we made the right decision,’” Mayor Donnalee Lozeau said Wednesday of the city’s motion to reconsider the case. “That has to happen before we take the appeal route.”

The city still has not decided whether it will appeal the superior court decision, Lozeau said. A team including the mayor, city assessing staff, corporation counsel, the chief financial officer and tax collector will determine if the city ought to take the case up the legal ladder – to the state Supreme Court.

“I’m certainly leaning
towards appealing it,” Lozeau said, “but I want to make sure I understand all of the consequences, the advantages, the pros the cons, those things.”

So far, the city’s spent about $16,000 on
legal fees for the Radisson abatement case, Lozeau said.

Lozeau said the city goes to the Supreme Court about cases “from time to time” and has funds in place to handle those cases.

The city will have to decide whether to appeal before it writes the Radisson its tax reimbursement check for about $800,000.

“Each year, we’ve had the Pheasant Lane Mall come in, different plazas in the community come in, and we generally have prevailed,” Lozeau said. “It’s unusual to have this happen in a case this size.”

Attorneys for the city defended its assessment of the hotel as fair market value. In 2010, the city assessed the hotel at $10.7 million for the building and $5.4 million for the land, for a total assessment of $16.1 million. A year later, in 2011,
the hotel was assessed slightly lower at $10.6 million, while the value for the land remained the same.

The hotel owners paid $319,682.43 in taxes in 2009, $329,037.72 in 2010, and $335,798.90 in 2011, according to city tax records.

AFP’s assessor, Wesley Reeks, of Bedford, placed the fair market value for the total property far lower, at $6.7 million for 2009, $4.9 million in 2010, and $5.8 million in 2011.

In their motion for the court to reconsider its ruling, city attorneys argued that Colburn interrupted the testimony of AFP’s assessor three times to explain that she “had extensive professional experience as a real estate broker before her career commenced as an attorney and as a judge,” according to court documents.

Colburn’s statement “impressed upon the parties and the witnesses that she was not a layperson
without experience in appraisal and evaluation matters,” the city argued.

The comment seemed to indicate that the assessor’s “expert testimony on his valuation methodologies was not necessary,” according to the motion.

Maryalice Gill can be reached at 594-6490 or mgill@nashua
telegraph.com.
Also, follow Gill on Twitter (@Telegraph_MAG).