BATH — After a two-month recess, a state tax board resumed its hearing on Bath Iron Works’ property tax appeal Tuesday with rulings in favor of each side.
The state Board of Property Tax Review voted to allow the city of Bath to call an expert witness. But the five-member panel also denied the city’s request to subpoena “business sensitive information,” including BIW’s U.S. Navy contracts, about which the expert witness was scheduled to testify.
Lawyers for both the shipbuilder and the city said the split decision jeopardized their cases.
BIW, Bath’s largest taxpayer, has challenged its 1991 property tax bill, saying the city grossly overassessed land, buildings, equipment and other property. The company is seeking a $3 million abatement.
On Tuesday, the city’s attorney, F. Paul Frinsko, said the expert witness — Navy Adm. Gerald Thompson — will testify about how defense contractors use contracts and additional government money. He said the testimony would “fairly test the evaluation” BIW’s expert witnesses made earlier in the hearing.
BIW’s attorneys argued that allowing the witness and the information after a July 23 deadline was “fundamentally unfair.”
Board members voted 4-1 to allow Thompson to testify, saying they needed as much “good and positive information” to make a fair judgment in this highly controversial case.
Less than a half-hour later, the board voted unanimously to adhere to its preset deadlines, deying the city’s request to subpoena BIW for more contract information.
Frinsko said that information and Thompson’s interpretation of it were crucial to the city’s case.
BIW presented most of its case in June. The city is expected to present its case this week.
The shipyard also has challenged its 1992 taxes.