The Annual Vala Meeting was called to order at approximately 9:00 a.m. with 70 in attendance. The first order of business was to elect a president. Vice President Pat French nominated John Fike as President. As there were no nominations from the floor, the Secretary was instructed to cast one ballot for John Fike as VALA President for the upcoming year.
President Fike gave a review of the year noting that VALA has become much more visible in Montpelier and that he, Tom Vickery, Randy Viens, and others have spent many hours testifying before committees in the Legislature.
This has been a hectic year and the New Year promises to be more of the same.
Treasurer’s Report: Included at the end of the minutes.
Randy Viens: Legislative—H776, the Rental Housing Bill, passed the House but died in the Senate.
H357 which was incorporated into the Miscellaneous Tax Bill H783, An Act Relating to the Appraisal of Land with Snowmobile Trails, passed.
H485, An Act Relating to the Use Value Appraisal Program—better known as Current Use—passed both Houses but was vetoed by the Governor. It is back on the table for this year.
Tom Vickery—Current Use will go forward with some version of H485, hopefully with some penalty to make the program stronger.
John Fike commented that a lot of people and coalitions worked together to come up with improvements to the Current Use program, but it is a difficult thing to try to please everyone—there are at least 25 special interest groups to be considered when proposed changes are to be made. It is a political play this year.
John Vickery: Education —PV&R has done a great job with educational offerings this year. John’s report and a listing of the classes held by PV&R are attached to these minutes.
The TOECs were well attended by Listers—this past April a total of 168 Listers attended the workshops which is 44% of the total attendees.
Ideas for upcoming workshops include the electronic version of the PTTR; a study on development value—how developers look at projects; and a workshop on equalization measures; project supervisor vs. appraisers.
If anyone has ideas for workshops, please let John know.
The committee also wants to take a look at the scholarship program and perhaps make changes so that more people would be aware of its existence.
Also, the process for Lister certification is still being pursued.
Record Retention: nothing yet. Katie Sherman is currently working with Town Clerks and Treasurers, but we are next in line.
Ed Clodfelter: The GIS two day seminar was good and it was fun.
In November, 2009, Ed and Chris Miele of NEMRC held a workshop on commercial properties which included the APEX sketching program. Forty people attended the seminar, and Ed suggested that perhaps another could be held. He would like to look at the Condominium Program and perhaps add enhancements while keeping it simple. He is considering teaching a Condo class on the updated system.
Chris Miele, NEMRC: Chris first thanked the group for the condolences expressed and the donations made in memory of his father.
Funding was approved for the “Punch List” so items will be prioritized and the CAMA committee will be kept informed on the progress.
There will no longer be two entities during a reappraisal year—just a reappraisal entity.
The Webinars are going well. The greatest benefit of the Webinars is that anyone can participate from their home as well as at the office…anywhere there is an internet connection. Chris recommends speakers and a microphone to be able to interact with the instructor. An upcoming Webinar will be on photos—some offices are still experiencing problems with knowing what to do once the photos have been downloaded into the computer.
The Grand List Seminars will be held in March as usual.
The HS122 will now only have to be filed once. If property owners filed in 2010, that will be the last time they need to file. However, they will still have to file the income sensitivity portion. NEMRC will send a list of the 2010 filers in January, 2011. Downloads will still come every week.
Bill Johnson: PV&R—Bill noted that it had been a busy year with many challenges.
Some of the changes include the automation of the Equalization Study, one time homestead declaration, and the hiring of Elizabeth Hunt as the new Current Use Chief.
Michelle Wilson will be training clerks on the new PTTR form.
The appraisals of the dams owned by TransCanada have been completed by George Sansoucy.
Bill Johnson was able to obtain financing for the CAMA Punch List.
John Fike: President’s Annual Meeting Review—John reviewed the happenings of the last year and announced that 2010 is the 25th year of VALA’s existence. He talked about the organization’s cash flow and suggested that dues be increased to $50 per town. He discussed the website and his conversation with Chuck Burt who set up the website initially and has maintained it since that time at no charge to VALA. If changes are going to be made to the website, it would also be a good time to give it a new look.
A re-design would cost approximately $1500. The written copy of John’s report which included the above, plus many other topics was sent to the membership with the Annual Meeting Agenda.
Michael P. Cyprian Lister of the Year Award:
After a brief review of the background of the Michael P. Cyprian Award by John Fike, the award was presented to Pat French. Pat has served his town for 30 years first as Lister, then Selectman, and currently is the Assessor for the Town of Randolph.
The speaker for the morning was Mark Brooks of Allen & Brooks, Inc. a commercial appraisal and consulting firm covering Chittenden County. They publish the Allen & Brooks Report twice a year which details trends in the Chittenden County commercial markets. A residential report is also published annually which details trends in the single family, condo, and apartment markets.
Mr. Brooks gave an overview of the trends in the Chittenden County commercial real estate markets, specifically retail, office, industrial and apartment. He started with a review of the single family residential market followed by a review of new commercial development, vacancy rates, rent and sale price trends, market activity and capitalization rate trends.
Attached to these minutes is the summary of his remarks to the group.
Representative Mark Higley from Lowell, Vermont talked briefly about H776, the Rental Housing Bill and that while it died this year, it may well come back in another session. Mark expressed his concern about the increasing burden being placed on Listers from other areas in government. If the Listers’ office is used as a means of gathering information other than that needed to create a grand list, it will be increasingly difficult for Listers and Assessors to gain access to properties. Another issue that will probably come up is how Listers are chosen—that instead of being elected, the position of Lister could be by appointment of local Select boards.
A straw vote was taken as to the desire of the membership to include money for a website. A majority voted yes on this subject.
For the afternoon session, a panel made up of Randy Viens, Chris Miele, Bill Johnson, Tom Vickery, and Ed Clodfelter fielded questions from the group. These questions covered the topics of:
- Veterans Exemptions—Is the system working to do what it is meant to do?
- How do Veterans’ benefits affect the income sensitivity rebate?
- How are towns handling grievances based on sales below assessed values. The panel strongly encouraged Listers to find out everything they can about the sales to see if there are reasons why the sale prices are lower than assessed value.
- Market level/decline and impact on towns
- Elected Listers vs. Assessors or appointments by Select boards—what have towns done to make sure they have qualified Listers?
- Easements—should Listers be lowering values because of easements
- How does the deeded option to purchase at Ag Land Value affect the market value for tax assessment purposes
- Statistical updates were discussed—state’s provision for towns to keep grand lists up to date should be made easier.
- Condo values…….very difficult to gain access to many condos—Ludlow achieves approximately 10% access and Hartford approximately 21%.
- Should VALA get involved in writing a law where the State and town take
co-ownership of cost of appeals going to Supreme Court? The consensus was “yes”.
- There was discussion on the differences between grand list maintenance and reappraisal. and that there are 4 types of reappraisal—complete, statistical, partial, rolling.
- Is there an easier way for a Lister to appeal a BCA decision—not just bumping price back up when appeal is over?
- Has any town experienced a BCA that has absolutely any knowledge of the assessment process or know how this system was devised in the first place
- If approved current use enrollments are received after grand list is lodged, do the changes require approval by Selectboard under “errors and omissions”?
The meeting adjourned at approximately 3:45 p.m.
Carol Hammond, Secretary
|Actual Budget||Actual Budget||Tentative Budget|
|Balance forward July 1||$5,005.88||$5,291.09||$4,856.85|
|IAAO A/R Received||$73.97||$00.00||$00.00|
|Rental Meeting Space||($115.00)||($355.00)||–|
|Transfer to Scholarship Fund||($150.00)|
|Gen’l Fund Balance 6/30||$4,291.09||$3,856.85||$3,778.85|
|Scholarship Fund Activity|
|Reimburse Gen’l Fund||–||$150.00||–|
|Scholarship Fund Balance||$1,000.00||$1,000.00||$1,000.00|
|Balance in Checking 6/30||$5,291.09||$4,856.85||$4,778.85|
MICHAEL P CYPRIAN AWARD
VALA established the Michael P. Cyprian, Lister of the Year Award in 1991 to honor Listers and Assessors who demonstrate fairness to all, dedication, helpfulness, worked to improve the listing process and pursued better education for the assessment community,
The award is named for Michael P Cyprian who was the ‘Ultimate Lister’. He was active in his town, volunteering his expertise on many committees. He was well trained as a Lister and chose to become a professional appraiser. His integrity, his unquestioned fairness, and his ability to communicate with the townspeople, his sense of humor, and his high level of professionalism marked Michael’s eleven years as a Lister. He was an active VALA member and offered much Lister training.
This year’s nominee began his assessing work by being elected to fill the unexpired term of Harry Cooley. He was reelected as a Lister from 1983-1986. He was elected as a Selectman from 1986-1992 and again 1994-1996. He was contracted as an Assessor from 1986-1997 to assist the town Listers. From 1998 to the present he was hired as the Assessor for the Town of Randolph. He has been involved in three town-wide reappraisals, with the last occurring in 2006. His knowledge about current use, education taxes, veteran’s exemptions, town voted exemptions, and issues pertinent to assessing properties is invaluable. He has been in involved in local government and has served on many local committees such as the Randolph Area Community Development Corporation.
He is an active member in VALA, currently serving as Vice president.
It is a pleasure for me to present the Michael P. Cyprian Award to Pat French for 2010
Summary of Remarks by Mark Brooks
Existing single family market – Sale volume peaked in 2004 with 1,970 sales. Sales have dropped sharply since and in 2009 only 870 sales were recorded. Median sale prices have dropped by about 5% since prices peaked in 2006. Current median sales price $257,000. These figures do not include new construction.
Retail market – Spending dropped 9% between 2008 and 2009. Lower demand for retail space causing landlords to lower rents. Because of a lack of significant new construction in recent years, vacancy is close to the long term average of about 7.2%. Some areas of higher vacancy, particularly on Church Street in Burlington where rents have dropped from $30-$35/SF to $25 to $30/SF. We’re probably seeing more at or below $25/SF most recently. Not much new construction is planned for the next few years.
Industrial market- There has been very little new construction over the past few years. Because of this, vacancy is fairly close to the long term average of 7.6%. There is one large industrial building in Essex available with 180,000 SF. Without this building, vacancy stands at 7.9%. Although vacancy is not excessive, there is little demand for space. Businesses are putting off expansion plans until the economy improves. A large part of activity has been associated with businesses downsizing. Rents are being dropped to secure or maintain occupancy.
Office market – This market has been hurt by too much new construction just as the economy went into the recession. Vacancy is at a record high of 12.8%. Long term average vacancy is 7.1%. New office construction continues and the oversupply will persist. Most of the oversupply is in the suburban segment of the market (outside downtown Burlington), which is 14.2%. Downtown Burlington is in better shape with 8.3% vacant, although that rate more than doubled from last year when vacancy was 4% because several businesses moved to the suburbs. Leasing and sale activity is down 20% to 30% from the annual level we usually see. Downward pressure on rents, especially outside Burlington. A 45,000 SF Class A office building is to be built in Burlington with occupancy in late 2011.
Apartment market – Strong rental demand. Vacancy around 2%. Rents have been increasing at 4-5% each year for the past 2-3 years. Likely a lower rate of increase this year as there is some resistance to the high rents and above average new construction is planned. The market is typically very tight, and this should continue. Flat enrollment at UVM, Champlain College and St. Michaels College, along with significant new student housing planned at UVM and Champlain College, will likely take some pressure off the Burlington rental market.
Allen & Brooks is a commercial appraisal and consulting firm covering Chittenden County. We publish the Allen & Brooks Report twice a year which details trends in the Chittenden County commercial markets. A residential report is also published annually which details trends in the single family, condo, and apartment markets.
VALA Annual Meeting
September 24, 2010
Vermont Technical College, Randolph, Vermont
Report of the Education Committee
John Vickery, Chair
Dear VALA members,
Thank you for allowing me to serve on the Education Committee. I enjoy taking part in offering educational opportunities to Vermont Listers. Mostly, I enjoy meeting Listers throughout the State during the TOECs each April. The discussions at the TOEC workshops never fail to give me different prospective on the appraisal subject. I look forward to the discussion at each location. My hope is that everyone that attends the workshops will learned something from the discussion.
This past April at the Town Officers Education Conference (TOEC) Todd LeBlanc and I conducted a workshop titled the Sales Comparison Approach before the Board of Civil Authority. We went to five locations throughout the State. If you are interested in obtaining the workshop materials let me know and I will get them to you.
The TOECs are always well attended by Listers. This past April a total of 168 Listers attended the TOEC workshops which is 44% of the total attendees.
April 2011, VALA is planning a workshop on the valuation of development property. Another possible VALA workshop may be on measures of equity for Listers. Property Valuation and Review is planning to conduct a workshop on the changes to the PTTR process. If you have a workshop idea let me know.
This coming year the committee will review the VALA scholarship program. Since the program began there has only been one scholarship request. We feel there are other VALA Listers that may need scholarships but have not asked. We want to review the effectiveness of the program.
In addition the VALA education committee will work with PV&R to review the requirements for Listers to become certified by the State of Vermont as an approved “Appraiser” and “Project Supervisor”.
The Education Committee would like to formally thank Michelle Wilson, Operations Chief for all the workshops and courses she has coordinated for Vermont Listers. She has put together 14 advanced and beginner course offerings. These classes are offered throughout the State and at a very reasonable price. Around 350 attendees have taken the following course offerings by PV&R.
This past year PV&R has offered the following courses.
- New Lister Orientation in four locations and free
- New Lister Training in four locations at $75 per town officer
- NEMRC Basic Computer Lab in five locations at $50 per town officer
- Apex Sketch Basic Computer Lab in five locations at $50 per town officer
- Microsolve CAMA Basic Computer Lab in five locations at $50 per town officer
- Basic Residential Construction in two locations at $25 per town officer
- Advanced Lister Training in four locations at $75 per town officer
- Microsolve CAMA Advanced Computer Lab in three locations at $50 per town officer
- Preparing for a Town Wide Reappraisal in two locations at $75 per town officer
- Developing a Land Schedule in two locations at $75 per town officer
- Residential Data Collection in four locations at $100 per town officer
- Depreciation Analysis – IAAO Workshop 155 at $250 per town officer
- Income Approach to Valuation – IAAO Course 102 at $400 per town officer
- Residential Modeling Concepts – IAAO Course 311 On October 4 – 8th for $400 per town officer.
If anyone would like to participate in the Education committee or have some suggestions for future appraisal workshops or courses please talk with Todd, Louise or me.
ATTENDEES AT 2010 ANNUAL MEETING
NAME TOWN COUNTY
Richard Pratt Addison Addison
Virginia Nix Barnard Windsor
Lois Resseguie Barnard Windsor
Richard Lancaster Barnard Windsor
Louise Ferris-Burt Bethel Windsor
Mimi Burstein Bethel Windsor
David Alexander Brookfield Orange
Patricia Rea Brookfield Orange
John Vickery Burlington Chittenden
John Christman Cabot Washington
Carlton Domey Cabot Washington
Ed Clodfelter Calais Washington
Robert Vickery Colchester Chittenden
Bob Gibney Dorset Bennington
Bruce Shields Eden Lamoille
Randy Viens Essex Chittenden
Robin Chapman Fairfax Franklin
Pat McNall Fairfax Franklin
Noel Walker Fairlee Orange
Augusta Graves Fayston Washington
Nancy Merrill Grafton Windham
Suzanne Sauve Grand Isle Grand Isle
Sue Lawrence Grand Isle Grand Isle
Janice Arnold Grand Isle Grand Isle
Caroline Diggen Groton Caledonia
Clarissa Holmes Hartford Windsor
Ralph Coleman Jamaica Windham
Valerie Pantorno Jamaica Windham
Lisa Truchon Lincoln Addison
Terry Thane Ludlow Windsor
Jack Berube Lyndon Caledonia
Kelly-Ann Harris Lyndon Caledonia
Pauline Moore Manchester Bennington
Joyce Scribner Manchester Bennington
Richard Alderman Middlesex Washington
Eric Young Middlesex Washington
Diane Moore Morgan Orleans
Charles McArthur Morristown Lamoille
Chris Miele NEMRC
Jean Audet Orwell Addison
Arlene Batschelet Orwell Addison
Cheryl Tudhope Orwell Addison
Charles Mason Pawlet Rutland
Carol Ackley Plymouth Windsor
Tom Marrone Plymouth Windsor
Michelle Pingree Plymouth Windsor
Bill Johnson PV&R
Mark Paulsen PV&R
Dave Tanner PV&R
Pat French Randolph Orange
Don Sweetser Randolph Orange
Penny Allyn Reading Windsor
John Fike Reading Windsor
Howard Burgess Rutland Rutland
Galen Mudgett Sharon Windsor
Todd LeBlanc Somerset Windham
Peter Whitney St Johnsbury Caledonia
Tim Morrissey Stowe Lamoille
Tom Vickery Stowe Lamoille
David Trombley Topsham Orange
Carol Hammond Vernon Windham
Phyllis Newton Vernon Windham
Mary Jane Potter Vt Municipal Assessor
Mike Fawcett Westminster Windham
Babetta Lynde Westminster Windham
Charles Degener Woodstock Windsor
Carol Wood Woodstock Windsor