BI-MONTHLY GENERAL MEETING MINUTES APRIL 01, 2009

MINUTES OF THE VALA DIRECTORS MEETING
APRIL 1, 2009

The meeting
was called to order at 9:00 a.m. by President Galen Mudgett with 26
in attendance as follows:

Mark Paulsen PV&R

Joyce Scribner Manchester Bennington

Pauline Moore Manchester Bennington

Carlton Domey Cabot Washington

John Christman Cabot Washington

Richard Lewis S.
Barre Washington

Sandra Clark Londonderry Windham

Phyllis Newton Vernon Windham

Lisa Truchon Lincoln Addison

David Alexander Brookfield Orange

John Fike Reading Windsor

Galen Mudgett,
Jr Sharon Windsor

Louise Ferris-Burt Bethel Windsor

Todd LeBlanc S
Burlington Chittenden

Pat French Randolph Orange

Randy Viens Essex Chittenden

Charles Mason Pawlet
Rutland

John Wetzel Fairlee Orange

Camilla Roberts Rockingham Windham

Babetta (Babs)Lynde Westminster Windham

Clarissa Holmes Hartford Windsor

Peter Rimsa Proctor Rutland

Howard Burgess Rutland Rutland

Bill Johnson PV&R

Tom Vickery Stowe Lamoille

Carol Hammond Vernon Windham

______________________________________________________________________

A motion was
made by John Fike to accept the minutes with amendments of the March
4, 2009 meeting. The motion was seconded and passed.

The Treasurers
report was read by Louise as follows, and accepted as read on a motion
by Todd LeBlanc.

Balance
3/4/09 $5,367.74

Dues
received $60.00

Expenses
0.00

Ending Balance
4/1/09 5,427.74

Education Fund $1,000.00

A/R
30.00

General Fund
4,367.74

Memberships
paid to date
96 Representing 54 towns, 5 business/Org., 1 Vt Gov Dept.

(7/1/08-4/1/09)

_____________________________________________________________________

 

The balance
of the meeting did not contain any motions—it was mainly discussion
with many topics covered.

VLCT—Steve
Jeffrey not present

PV&R—Bill
Johnson commented on the following topics:

1. No
big changes in the legislature to date.

2. The
state will not be taking over the billing or collecting of education
taxes; if they did, more employees would be needed in the Tax Department.
There is a possibility that the dates could change again on the HS 122.
Galen suggested changing to only one download per month after the April
15th deadline. Sending prebate/rebate money directly
to towns is still in effect—the state doesn’t want to change that
and there is a general feeling that netting of taxes has been successful.

3. No
changes in Current Use Program this year. There has been some
discussion on the evaluation of energy efficiency/renewable items but
it is felt that such a practice would create valuation issues and cause
more problems.

4. There
will be covenant housing evaluation changes in 2010—fair market value
on the municipal side with a lower rate on the education side..
Testimony might be taken from low income housing lobbyists who would
oppose changes in how these properties are valued.

5. The legislature is
spending some time on TIFs –Tax Incremental Financing
(Just in case there are some Listers out there who had no idea what
TIF stands for—like me). Bill said that money to pay for
infrastructure changes by the municipality would come from the education
fund—actually the TIF district would be exempted from paying education
taxes—that it would be the biggest raid yet on the education fund
and it would result in higher taxes state wide as all other towns would
be forced into making up the difference of lost revenue to the education
fund.

6. A
bill to eliminate all exemptions will probably not go anywhere

7. Net
Book valuation of utilities—there is now real data from which PV&R
can discern the difference between Net Book and Fair Market Valuations
of utilities. PV&R is not supporting the move to Net Book—it
is not advantageous to towns. While Net Book valuation will probably
not be pursued this year, it will most likely resurface at a later time.

8. Mapping
program—will be moving from the Tax Dept to VCGI. (Vermont
C
enter for Geographic Information).

9. Online
PTTR (Property Transfer Tax Return):
The January 1, 2010 deadline will not be met but the process in ongoing.
The state wants money from the property transfers to come directly to
them—money is sitting far too long in Town Clerks’ offices.
Lawyers are not happy with the form but most of the problems arise from
lawyers who do not fill out the form correctly. Hopefully a form
will not be able to be submitted unless it is completely filled out.

10. Education
tax rate base—maybe a one cent reduction; money to support this is
available but could cause increase next year. Because of complexities
in budgets, education fund rate has not been set. The cost of
education is rising at an unsustainable rate—efficiencies are needed.

11. Personnel
cuts: 2 from PV&R—not District Advisors; mapping program
gone; if cuts are made, it will happen by the end of this fiscal year.
PV&R was cut drastically during the last recession—hopefully the
Legislature realizes it cannot cut PV&R to that extent again.

MARK PAULSEN:
New maps showing the towns covered by the eight District Advisors—available
as a down load.

A new District
Advisor, Nancy Merrill, has been hired and will be covering the southeastern
part of the state.

Education program:
New Lister Orientation classes have been well attended.

A new NEMRC
training class will be taught by Charlene Lathrop and Frank Partsch

Other classes
are being revamped.

EQUALIZATION
STUDY—Concern was expressed by Listers from various towns who have
sales in certain property categories that have significantly dropped
in price due to the down turn in the real estate market and other reasons.
It was felt that if PV&R could consider these sales for just one
year rather than include them in the three year sales study; it would
be fairer and more equitable.

There was much
discussion of grand list maintenance, partial reappraisal for a specific
category of properties, trending, and that time adjustment was not considered
in the equalization study. Both Bill Johnson and Mark Paulsen
expressed concerns about trying to fine tune the study; that while the
equalization study has problems and that it is a broad tool, it is consistent
and it does work. Mention was also made of towns that manipulate the
study for the purpose of keeping valuations at 100%.

Bill recommended
that VALA re-institute its Equalization Committee—the following people
volunteered to part of it:

Tom Vickery,
Pauline Moore, Randy Viens, Lisa Truchon, Louise Ferris-Burt, and Clarissa
Holmes.

John Wetzel
commented that Listers while Chris Miele is our main contact for problems
in NEMRC, a “Go To” person for CAMA is also needed. Concern
was expressed that Melanie is no longer working for NEMRC and comments
were made that Ernie Saunders is moving around resources for better
efficiency, and that he has made a lot of improvements since he took
over the CAMA program

RANDY VIENS:
PTTR issues were already addressed by Bill. Senate
bill S16 sponsored by Senator Bartlett which includes a change to a
district or county CLA and 3 year reappraisals is probably not going
anywhere. Bill Johnson presented a study of what would be involved
in changing the present structure, the costs, etc. and that it was not
cost effective to make the change.

EDUCATION:
There was dissatisfaction expressed as to the content of the TOECs this
year. There is really nothing specifically for Listers, not even
the annual Lister Forum.

There is a
need for a new location for VALA meetings for the rest of the year.
Louise said the White Church in Bethel would be available. Since
the church also houses the local food pantry, it would be good if everyone
bought an item to contribute—in lieu of rental fee.

ANNUAL MEETING:
The tentative date is September 25, 2009. This will be finalized
soon.

LISTER OF THE
YEAR—Peter Rimsa suggested sending out letters to all Town Clerks
and District Advisors for possible nominations.

Peter also
said that he did not run for re-election this year nor did he accept
his Select board’s appointment as he is retiring. The group
gave Peter a round of applause for all of his work in VALA over the
years.

Babetta Lynde,
a Lister from Westminster (it rhymes) expressed several concerns which
included the lack of training for new Listers, lack of respect for the
position of Lister by Selectboard as well as town’s people, and lack
of understanding the scope of the job before running for office.
It was pointed out that education for Listers is available but unfortunately
not all of the information regarding classes, seminars, etc is sent
directly to the Listers’ office. Lisa Truchon, who is part of
the Education Committee, will make sure that the rest of the committee
is made aware of these concerns.

The next meeting
will be held at the White Church in Bethel on May 13, 2009.

With no more
business to discuss, the meeting was adjourned.

Respectfully
submitted,

Carol Hammond,
Secretary

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