VERMONT ASSESSORS AND LISTERS ASSOCIATION
2015 SUMMARY of HIGHLIGHTS.
Mission revisited: The VALA Directors and Members carefully considered revising the Mission Statement. The Mission and Vision Statement were approved at the Annual Meeting to read:
Mission: The Vermont Assessors and Listers Association’s mission it to advocate for the recognition of Listers and Assessors as qualified property valuation authorities throughout Vermont.
Vision: The Vermont Assessors and Listers Association’s vision is to continue the advancement of fair and equitable property assessment standards through continuing education and member support for all property valuation professionals, in conjunction with advocating for fair and equitable taxation practices as it relates to property assessment.
Transitions of Leadership: Leadership has been handed forward for three of the key organizations in the state: VALA, Vermont League of Cities and Towns (VLCT), and Property Valuation and Review (PVR).
VALA: John Fike of Reading transferred his VALA Presidency to Todd LeBlanc of South Burlington and Todd LeBlanc’s position as Vice President has now been transitioned to Camilla Roberts. The Secretary’s position has also been transitioned from Penny Allyn to Tamsin Coon, and the position of VALA Treasurer has transitioned from Pauline Moore to Bob Vickery.
PVR: Director of PVR Bill Johnson has since retired and Jim Knapp stepped in for the interim and now Douglas Farnham has accepted the position of Director of PVR.
VLCT: Steve Jeffries chose to retire last year and his position has now been transferred to Maura Carroll.
Listers of the Year: Charlie Mason from the town of Pawlett was nominated for the Lister of the Year and is the first recipient for the Steve Jeffries Educational Grant (see Lister of the Year category on VALA’s web site at valavt.org.
Membership continues to expand: Total Town Memberships are now 104, Members now total 285, Professional Memberships total 13 and last year we had were 11 new towns that joined VALA!
Legislature consults with VALA: Finally, the significance of the Listers and Assessors experience in the trenches of the property valuation and tax system is recognized as an important resource to legislators! For years VALA has been sending members to speak to the legislature committees, by dedicatedly watching the board for new bills, and showing up in the halls and rooms when the topic is on deck. However, VALA is now being asked proactively by legislators to speak to committees on new bills, and included in study groups where proposed changes are being developed. In 2015 Randy Viens has work on two such study groups, one to examine ways to use the current year grand list and tax rate to establish the Property Tax Adjustment claim amount for property owners, and the second group to examine the effects of Current Use changes on the Hold Harmless payments to towns. This switch is a tribute for Randy Viens, Todd LeBlanc, and Tom Vickery as a result of their years of vigilance and articulate understanding of the diverse proposals that emerge in Montpelier.
The Current Use Advisory Board again includes a Lister, Randy Viens of Essex. Bruce Shields of Eden is also on that board, although in a different capacity officially.
To read about the legislative changes that affect Lister and Assessment work from the 2014-15 sessions, please go to the April newsletter on the VALA website.
Education for Listers and Assessors provided by VALA: VALA offered the course “ Excel for Assessors “, which was very well attended. VALA provided workshops in three locations during the TOECs. Listers were there in high numbers, even though the overall town officer attendees were down slightly.
Statewide procedure changes collaboratively handled: There were several arenas of procedure in valuation and reporting of data that were undertaken this year as a result of legislation. To implement any revision of statute is an undertaking that ripples through multiple organizations, all of which work collaboratively to get the job done. Those organizations are: PVR to systematize the changes of law, NEMRC to utilize the power and efficiency of computer systems, Listers and Assessors throughout the state who bring it all down to earth parcel by parcel, with VLCT as town advocate, resource, and watchdog. Here’s what we all worked on together;
- Funds for towns are now handled by a single grant process
- Solar valuations
- Non-Taxable and exempt property values and reporting related data
- Current Use “easy out” of enrollments are nearly all completed due to downright heroic efforts by PVR staff.
Respectfully submitted by Vice President Camilla Roberts