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Make the case

Those representing the city of Nashua, as well as those who have concerns about the city’s Assessing Department, will get the opportunity to make their case to the New Hampshire of Board Tax and Land Appeals.

The state board has agreed to investigate the “legality” of the city’s property tax valuations. Nashua received a letter signed by BTLA Chair Michele LeBrun, as well as board members Albert Shamash and Theresa Walker establishing the inquiry.

The hearing is set for 9 a.m. Aug. 6 at 107 Pleasant St., Johnson Hall, Concord.

“I am always concerned when I don’t know what specific allegations I am supposed to be refuting,” Nashua Corporation Counsel Steve Bolton told our reporter regarding the investigation by the state board. “To the extent the the BTLA has concerns about assessing, I’m sure we will be able to alleviate their concerns, and demonstrate that we do every thing in the proper manner and in accordance to the law.”

The letter Nashua officials received from the board last week makes reference to a tax appeal heard on Sept. 13, during which members heard evidence that Nashua had not performed a full “measure and list” of property in the city since the early 1990s. Board members also have questions about whether the city is treating “sold” properties differently from “unsold” properties during the assessing process.

“Hardly a day goes by without corrections being made to data,” Bolton said in response. “It is true that a full measure and list has not been done since the early 90s – and it is also true that the law does not require us to do that.”

The board’s letter also cites The Telegraph’s numerous stories about the city’s Assessing Department and functions.

Potential problems with the city’s assessing practices surfaced last year when Berkeley Street resident Laurie Ortolano began expressing concerns. She even went as far as to pay a private detective $8,000 to follow one of the assessors she suspected of sleeping on the job. City leaders are still investigating the employee in question.

“I’m very happy that the BTLA is calling the city in. We really struggled down here,” Ortolano said told our reporter of the state investigation. “I’m happy to have an opportunity to bring data to the BTLA, and I hope that I can finally get some answers.”

We also hope to finally get some answers. For months, we have been reporting on the allegations against the city’s Assessing Department. The former chief assessor’s position was eliminated after an internal audit, while there was also some shuffling of other positions at City Hall.

Have these steps taken by the city cured the apparent issues with the assessing functions, or are there still deeper problems?

We encourage residents who are concerned about the city’s assessing practices to attend the hearing and take with them any evidence of problems they have encountered in this matter. We also ask them to respect board’s decision on the matter.