LACONIA — Robert Bahre, who built and owned New Hampshire International Speedway, is suing the town of Alton, claiming that high property taxes are preventing him from selling his $23 million, 19-acre estate on Lake Winnipesaukee.
The suit which, lists Robert Bahre, Sandra Bahre, and Gary Bahre, as plaintiffs, alleges the property taxes are “illegal, excessive, disproportionate and unjust,” according to the civil complaint filed in Belknap Superior Court.
The complex, built between 2000 and 2004 includes two homes totaling more than 63,000 square feet of living space, and entertainment barn, a teahouse, two stone boathouses, multiple docks, a stone amphitheater and cottage at the water’s edge, an infinity pool, a tennis court and a grass helicopter pad.
While the property is assessed for tax purposes at $23,109,500, it is being offered for sale for $17.8 million — $31.2 million less than the $49 million asking price when it first went on the market four years ago. Two years ago the Bahres cut the asking price in half to $25.8 million.
Based on the current Alton tax rate of $12.86 per $1,000 of assessed value, the Bahres paid $309,280.17 in property tax. On July 30, the town of Alton reduced the assessment on the property by $936,400 and refunded the Bahres $12,092 they had paid on their 2017 tax bill.
The suit states property taxes have been the “number one problem” in finding anyone so far interested in buying the complex, called Lakeview, located off Hopewell Road, at the tip of Clay Point.
The suit states that property in Alton is assessed at 99 percent of its fair market value. “That implies that (the Bahres’) property has a market value of $23,155,811” — $5,355,811 more than the current asking price.
At $14.98, Alton has one of the lowest tax rates among communities with extensive waterfront on Lake Winnipesaukee. Moultonborough’s rate is considerably lower, at $8.22 per $1,000 of assessed value. But Wolfeboro, Meredith, Gilford, and Laconia are higher, with tax rates of $14.98, $15.23, $17.26 and $21.03 respectively.
The suit filed by attorney Margaret Nelson on behalf of the Bahres, argues, “Even affluent potential purchasers are concerned about the very high tax burden, especially in light of recent changes in the federal tax law regarding the deductibility of property tax expenses.”
Beginning with this federal Income Tax year, taxpayers will only be able to deduct $10,000 in state and local taxes from their income tax.
The suit asks the court to order an abatement of whatever amount of the tax the court finds is unjust.
Bahre built the New Hampshire International Speedway — now the New Hampshire Motor Speedway — on the site of what had been Bryar Motorsport Park in Loudon. The Bahre family operated the track from 1990 until 2007 when Speedway Motorsports purchased the track and other Bahre race-related assets for $340 million.