BI-MONTHLY GENERAL MEETING MINUTES MARCH 19, 2008

MINUTES OF THE
VALA DIRECTORS MEETING

MARCH 19, 2008

The meeting was called to order
by President Galen Mudgett at 9:20 a.m. with 15 present as follows:

Mark Paulsen PV&R

Bill Johnson PV&R

Randy Viens Essex Chittenden

John Wetzel Fairlee Orange

Steve Jeffrey VLCT

Frank Partsch PV&R

Bill Hammond Vernon Windham

Keith Darby KEVA Co. N Hero Grand
Isle

Todd LeBlanc S Burlington Chittenden

Pat French Randolph Orange

Tom Vickery Stowe Lamoille

John Vickery Burlington Chittenden

Galen Mudgett, Jr Sharon Windsor

Louise Ferris-Burt Bethel Windsor

Carol Hammond Vernon Windham

A motion was made and seconded
to accept the minutes of the January 9, 2008 meeting. The motion
passed.

The Treasurers report was read
by Louise as follows, and accepted as read.

Balance 1/4/08 $
7,170.27

Dues Received $
30.00

IAAO Course Registrations 8,550.00
(26)

Expenses –

Donuts $
6.62

Instructor
Fee 3,500.00

Postage
8.82

Reimburse
450.00
(IAAO withdrawal-early Feb.)

Total $3,965.42

Ending Balance 3/19/2008 $11,
2784.85

______________________________________

IAAO Income
Course

Total Course
registrations for attendees $11,250.00 (25)

Instructor Fee Paid $3,500.00

Accts Payable: IAAO 6,000.00 Course
Materials for 24


Site rental 300.00


Cancelled Attendee 450.00 After
Course started

Overage of Funds received $1,000.00 $
5,034.85 (ck book bal.)

$ 1,000.00 (education fund)

$ 4,034.85 (Gen’l fund)

______________________________________

Membership

Total Memberships paid to date
7/1/07 – 3/18/08 124

 


Respectfully submitted,


Louise Ferris-Burt, Treasurer

There were no applications
for scholarships for the Income Approach Class.

Louise also reported that there
continues to be interest in the VALA website with people from both New
England and across the country visiting the site.

Steve Jeffrey:

Steve gave an update on a couple
items of legislation that is of concern to Listers as follows:

S. 350 the Energy Efficiency
Bill:

 

The Senate Natural Resources
Committee had proposed sections 22 and 23 of the bill that would have
exempted a number of energy efficiency and alternative energy improvements
to buildings.

 

As Bill Johnson and I
indicated yesterday, the Senate Finance Committee has indeed proposed
unanimously to strike those two sections. They seemed to respond to
the concerns Galen, VLCT and PVR had testified to as to the difficulty
in administering such a proposal. The bill is on the Senate Calendar
today but may still be referred to the Appropriations Committee. If
it is not referred to day, it will be up for Senate action tomorrow.
See
http://www.leg.state.vt.us/docs/legdoc.cfm?URL=/docs/2008/calendar/sc080320.htm.

 

I had also told the gathering
that Rep. Helm had proposed to eliminate the “income approach”
method that Listers are required to apply for subsidized rental housing
properties. As the language in the House Journal below indicates, he
withdrew the amendment, but he is planning to offer it on the miscellaneous
tax bill (no number yet) when it is reported out, probably next week.
Listers concerned about this issue should contact your House members
and urge them to act on the Helm proposal of amendment.

 

H.
863

House
bill, entitled

An
act relating to creation and preservation of affordable housing and
smart growth development; Was taken up and pending third reading of
the bill, Rep. Helm of Castleton moved to amend the bill as follows:
by adding a new Sec. 27 to read:

Sec.
27. 32 V.S.A. §3481 (1) is amended to read:

(1)
“Appraisal value” shall mean, with respect to property enrolled
in a use value
appraisal
program, the use value appraisal as defined in subdivision 3752(12)
of this title, multiplied by the common level of appraisal, and with
respect to all other property, the estimated fair market value. The
estimated fair market value of a property is the price which the property
will bring in the market when offered for sale and purchased by another,
taking into consideration all the elements of the availability of the
property, its use both potential and prospective, any functional deficiencies,
and all other elements such as age and condition which combine to give
property a market value. Those elements shall include a consideration
of a decrease in value in nonrental residential property
due to a housing subsidy covenant as defined in section 610 of Title
27, or the effect of any state or local law or regulation affecting
the use of land, including but not limited to chapter 151 of Title 10
or any land capability plan established in furtherance or implementation
thereof, rules adopted by the state board of health and any local or
regional zoning ordinances or development plans. In determining estimated
fair market value, the sale price of the property in question is one
element to consider, but is not solely determinative.
Thereupon, Rep. Helm of Castleton asked and was granted leave
of the House to withdraw his amendment
.

Steve noted
that any move toward an income tax method of funding education was dead
for this year.

The current
use issue was discussed. It appears that there isn’t much interest
in changing the program since many legislators have land in current
use. Tom Vickery had suggested a $3000 cap per acre which would
result in a million dollars of savings. About 1100 properties
would be affected, most of which were bought for protection, not farmland
or forest. However, there was no desire on the part of the legislature
to consider this suggestion. Tom asked those present if he should
continue to work for changes in the current use program, addressing
the inequities and lack of checks and balances. Tom was encouraged
by those present to continue his efforts for change.

Note: The following explanation
is from Bill Johnson regarding the reimbursement of taxes to the towns
for current use properties:
The
state reimburses towns for the full amount of the municipal taxes foregone
based on the enrollment of the prior year (i.e., for 2007 tax year,
it is 2006 enrollment that determines the amount of the payment). The
school taxes aren’t directly reimbursed but are a foregone revenue.
That is, the towns don’t collect any revenue associated with the exempt
reduction, just taxes on use value. In the equalization study, the state
only reflects the use value of enrolled properties so the state education
tax treats the value above the use value as exempt from taxation. But
there is no free lunch, to make up for the foregone education taxes,
we have to have uniformly higher education tax rates for all towns in
the state. So, everyone in all towns
is collectively paying for the cost of the program.

Thanks Bill.

There will
be no downward adjustment in the school tax rate this year. The
amounts will be $.87 for residential and $1.36 for non-residential.
This is due in part to very few school budgets being voted down this
year. Overall, there is a 5.3% increase in school budgets.
The amount for income sensitivity is now $90,000, with a 1.8% threshold.
Education fund tax rates will increase next year.

School payments
will be made directly to the School Districts this year rather than
to the Towns.

Steve asked
how the “Paulsen Funding for Education of Listers” was working.
Mark responded that it appears to be working well and noted that the
money is only for PVR sponsored courses. The question was asked
as to why the education money can’t be used for NEMRC seminars as
well as the TOEC’s, IAAO courses, and those taught by PVR people.
After a lively discussion, Bill Johnson said that the only way to include
the NEMRC seminars would be by legislative action.

It was moved by Louise that
education reimbursement wording be changed to include any training tied
to the maintenance of the grand list by Listers and Assessors.
The motion was seconded by Todd LeBlanc; the motion passed. Steve
said he would try to get this into the Miscellaneous Tax Bill.

Bill Johnson

Terry Knight has been working
with Michelle Wilson to get the education program back on track.

Property taxes are not at the
center of legislative concerns. There will be a few changes in
the current use program. It will no longer be necessary to send
out change of appraisal notices when it is just a change in the dollar
per acre set by Current Use. Municipal land outside of town can
now be in current use if eligible.

Rolling reappraisals:
There were those in both the House and Senate who thought rolling reappraisals
would solve the CLA dilemma by keeping properties at 100% of fair market
value. After Bill explained to the Legislature what would be involved
in both cost and additional personnel, the plan was scrapped for now.

Energy Bill – S.350:
parts of that will be eliminated. There is a provision to value
commercial wind turbines which would amount to 3/10 of 1 KW generation
tax on the school side.

Subsidized housing valuation:
there have been discussions as to the amount of reduction of value that
should be allowed for restricted properties since there is diminishing
value to the owner when there are restrictions. PVR will
be coming out with a technical bulletin for a recommended approach of
valuing covenant restricted housing. There were many comments
as to the proper completion of the property tax transfer reports for
this kind of property—amounts listed may or may not reflect the value
of restrictions—so that the amount shown may not be what the seller
gets or the buyer pays for the property.

Bill also said that sales of
these types of properties should not be included on the sales study.

 

Mark Paulsen passed out a Lister
Education Questionnaire from Michelle Wilson for desired classes.
Mark also noted that there are classes that are currently being taught
that may need modernization/restructuring. If anyone has suggestions,
they should contact PVR. Also discussed were classes or courses
which could be made available “on-line.” Michelle uses
the term “Webinars” which would allow Listers to take a class/course
“on-line” at his or her own pace.

Frank Parsch reported that
the new 2007 cost tables will be available in approximately two weeks.
Residential tables will be from Marshall & Swift’s 4th
quarter of 2007, and commercial tables will be from 3rd quarter
of 2007.

Education Committee:
John Vickery: There will be five locations for the TOEC’s this
spring. John and Todd will be teaching a workshop on valuing convenience
stores/gas stations. Because there is so much material the workshop
will be an overview and they will provide handouts at the class.

John passed along a request
from Priscilla Robinson to be part of the education committee, which
was approved.

Tom Vickery will replace Mark
Paulsen on Legislative Committee and Mark has also asked to be removed
from the Lister of the Year Committee. Terry Knight’s name should
be added as she was last year’s recipient of the award. Peter
Rimsa and Caroline Lockyer were suggested as past recipients who might
be willing to serve on this committee.

Galen inquired of the group
about developing a policy for testifying at legislative committees as
a representative of VALA on issues that affect Listers. It was recommended
that a committee be formed to develop a policy which could meet annually
to change or update policy. If any one has suggestions on this
issue, please forward them to Carol Hammond. See attached tentative
Legislative Policy.

Keith Darby of KEVA Company
gave the group an overview of his business which is building websites
for towns using the CAMA lister cards. This website would include
all the information from the lister card plus pictures. A property
parcel could be accessed in different ways—name, street address, etc.
The downside, like that of the property card, is that if a parcel
has more than one house, or a house with more than one section, only
the first one can be accessed. The initial cost for set
up would be $3500 with a $500 annual maintenance fee plus $1000 for
updating. Mr. Darby has set up the website for the town of Fairlee.

(Secretary’s note:
I am not sure if the figures given were actual or if they are based
on Town of Fairlee’s costs)

The next scheduled meeting
will be May 7, 2008. A tentative date for the Annual Meeting is
September 19, with an alternate date of September 26.

With no other business discuss
the meeting was adjourned.

Respectfully
submitted,

Carol Hammond,
Secretary

LEGISLATIVE
POLICY

SECTION 1. VERMONT ASSESSMENT
POLICY: The broad outline of assessment policies to be supported
by the Vermont Assessor and Lister Association during the ensuing legislative
session will be developed by the Legislative Committee; reviewed and
amended as needed and appointed by the Board of Directors and adopted
at the Annual meeting. Suggested policy initiatives and amendments
may also be presented by members, in writing, prior to the meeting or
on the floor at the meeting. The existing language of the Assessment
Policy shall remain unchanged from year to year unless amended by two-thirds
of the votes cast at the Association’s Annual Meeting.

SECTION 2. SPECIFIC LEGISLATION:
The Legislative Committee may recommend specific proposals of legislation
within the adopted Assessment Policy for consideration by the Board
of Directors.

SECTION 3. POLICY CHANGES:
The Board of Directors may, from time to time, during the legislative
session modify VALA Assessment Policy within the guidelines adopted
by the membership; determine which legislative proposals are consistent
or counter to the adopted policy; and adopt positions on pieces of legislation
that contain both proposals consistent with the policy and proposals
that are counter to the policy. The Board may only take such actions
when it finds that it would result in improving the assessment climate
in Vermont.

 

 

 

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