MINUTES OF VALA
MAY 21, 2008
The meeting was called to order
at 9:15 a.m. by President Galen Mudgett with 20 in attendance as follows:
Galen E. Mudgett, Jr. Sharon Windsor
Carol Hammond Vernon Windham
Tom Vickery Stowe Lamoille
Louise Ferris-Burt Bethel
Pat French Randolph Orange
Carlton Domey Cabot Washington
Cheryl Tudhope Orwell Addison
Bill Johnson PV&R
Mark Paulsen PV&R
Bruce Shields Eden Lamoille
Pete Rimsa Proctor Rutland
Alexis “Bill” Parent Richmond
Lisa Truchon Lincoln Addison
Penny Allyn Reading Windsor
John Fike Reading Windsor
John Wetzel Fairlee Orange
Steve Jeffrey VLCT
Russell Rice Brattleboro Windham
Camilla Roberts Rockingham Windham
Mimi Burstein Bethel Windsor
There was one correction to
the minutes of the March___ meeting. The ending balance of the
Treasurer’s report should have been $11,784.85. The motion was
made by John Fike to accept the minutes with the correction. The
motion was seconded and passed.
The Treasurer’s report was
read by Louise and accepted on a motion by Tom Vickery and can be found
at the end of these minutes.
Louise also asked if she could
bill shipping and handling for class materials to the late registrant
of and the late withdrawer from the IAAO Income Course. Tom Vickery
moved that Louise send a bill for the shipping and handling charges
to both. The motion was seconded and passed.
It was suggested that perhaps
VALA should institute a fee for late registrations and early withdrawals.
If someone withdraws early from a class, only the cost of the materials
Louise reviewed the latest
diagnostics on the VALA website. Most of the hits on the website
were from New England, but there were also some from different parts
of the country.
Chuck has now made it possible
for Louise and/or Carol to edit some items on the website.
There are some changes on property
taxes with regard to exemptions that made their way into the Miscellaneous
Tax Bill. There were some changes in the Current Use program.
There are changes in housing projects that had exemptions during the
1960s and 70s—they are now coming onto the education grand lists in
their respective towns and will have to be voted exemptions by the towns.
The towns would then have to make up the difference for the school taxes.
Ice hockey rinks that host
sporting events and are sanctioned by the Vermont Principals Association
will be tax exempt from education taxes for 2 years. Two health
clubs owned by Springfield and North Country Hospitals will have a one
or two year exemption from education taxes.
Regarding expanding the area
of education funding to include NEMRC grand list seminars and other
courses not presently eligible, Steve didn’t get this included in
the Miscellaneous Tax Bill, but has a draft ready for the next legislative
S311 which dealt specifically
with Current Use changes and was the result of the Task Force/summer
study on current use was passed. Starting in 2009,
electronic downloads will start [per the request of some Listers] on
March 15, 2009 and must be sent back to Montpelier by July 1.
The program has been tweaked a bit more and is better and more user
friendly. Many suggestions for improvements have been implemented.
The Legislature really wanted
to pass the Senate Bill S311. There was nothing too earthshaking
…a. provision in the bill was that a change in the CLA would not necessitate
a change of appraisal notice. Additional types of forest land are now
eligible for program– ecologically significant areas, will now be allowed
in program even though they are not productive land. Comments had been
made that PV&R was not effective in their administration of the
Current Use program, but changes/improvements have been made such as
automating the process. One of the biggest problems is chasing
property owners who don’t report to PV&R, mostly in the area of
changes and transfers and who don’t comply with the requirements of
the program. Efforts are being made to automate the PTR form which
will link to other data bases.
Another Summer Study will be
done on Current Use. There are still more issues that need to
be discussed, such as the definition of a farmer and should it be expanded;
horse farms; posted land vs. non posted land with perhaps a tiering
of benefits; and monitoring of farm land. There is no formal system
of monitoring farm land, hence the abuses. There is still
the desire to expand the program to perhaps include issues such as global
warming, carbon credits, etc. Also, forests could be left to absorb
carbon dioxide, and would not have to be cut. But, all these additions,
expansions, etc. come with a cost. These additional costs have
not been addressed and the Legislature will have to find funding.
One third of all land in Vermont is in Current Use. Current Use
is presently a $40 million dollar program which costs every tax payer
in the state $60.00 every year and only benefits 13-14 thousand property
owners. Next year the cost will be $45 million and will continue
to increase every year. Enrollments are increasing as property owners
use the program to lower their taxes.—advocates say that is the price
paid for offering the program. The greatest expansion is in forest.
Expanding the program is politically popular, so legislators aren’t
going to consider capping or containment. When asked VLCT’s
view on Current Use, Steve Jeffrey responded that since the towns are
reimbursed that it is revenue neutral. VALA will have a member
on the task force/summer study. Peter Rimsa nominated Tom Vickery
to be VALA’s representative on the task force. The motion was
seconded and passed. However, Bill pointed out that there is no
one in the lead of getting the study off the ground—just that there
will be a summer study.
A suggestion was made that
a list of VALA concerns be posted in each Town Office, in newspapers,
VALA website, and any other appropriate place showing how the program
affects tax rates.
State reimbursement for ANR
lands will be increasing; the reappraisal of state lands will increase
The tax rates for this year
will be $0.87 for residential and $1.36 for non resident.
This rate will increase next year.
Bylaw Changes: Legislative
At present, Galen or any other
member of the VALA organization cannot testify at a committee hearing
as VALA but only as a lister from his or her town. A policy is
needed. Louise moved to have the Legislative Policy adopted as
written and to be presented at the Annual Meeting. The motion
was seconded and passed.
Since it is difficult to know
who is a voting member of VALA, it was suggested that each person who
pays his or her dues, or has proof of payment be given a voter card
to be used for voting at the annual meeting.
Mark reported that the 2007
cost tables are available. Also, it is felt that a model RFP and
contract for reappraisal should be developed which would benefit both
contractors and towns. Mark would like a committee formed to address
this issue. The committee would be comprised of Listers,
representatives from PVR, appraisal contractors and would develop a
model contract. Suggestions were made as to what would be included in
the contract—how much Listers will be involved in the reappraisal
process, a time line, and others. Tom Vickery, Louise Ferris-Burt,
Camilla Roberts, John Wetzel, Bruce Shields, Pat French expressed an
interest in serving on the committee and it was felt that Ed Clodfelter,
John Vickery, Todd LeBlanc, and Randy Viens would also be valuable to
the committee since they all have been involved in recent reappraisals.
Bruce Shields made a motion
to form a committee to study and develop RFP and Reappraisal contract
guidelines. The motion was seconded and passed.
A major area of concern is
owner occupied covenant housing—appraisal, resale, etc
Problems include restricted
resale price; resales—only 13% have been removed from program, state-wide;
income sensitivity—regardless of how property is valued, income is
criteria for how much the property owner is taxed.
There is a redundancy in programs;
all of the other programs are not necessary—income sensitivity addresses
the taxation issue.
Municipal side more adversely
affected—they don’t pay their share for providing services.
Land Trust properties are not
being assessed at fair market value
After further discussion Steve
Jeffrey said he will have VLCT develop a policy on Owner Occupied Housing.
Galen expressed his appreciation
on behalf of VALA to PV&R for their emphasis on education.
The next meeting will be July
2, 2008. The Annual Meeting will be September 19, 2008.
With no further business to
conduct, the meeting was adjourned at 11:45 a.m.
Carol Hammond, Secretary
MAY 21, 2008
Balance 3/19/2008 $
Dues Received $ 15.00
use $ 300.00 IAAO
450.00 IAAO withdrawal
Ending Balance 5/20/2008 $
Education Fund $
General Funds $4,049.85
Total Course Registrations
for attendees $ 11,250.00 
Instructor fee paid $3,500.00
Expenses: IAAO 6,062.41
Course materials for 24, S&H, 1 book
return of cancelled materials
Cancelled Attendee 450.00
After course started
Overage of Funds received $
1 book 40.00 Running balance
Billable ?? S&H
Possible funds available $ 1,000.00
Total Memberships paid to date
7/1/07 – 5/20/08 125