MINUTES OF THE VALA DIRECTORS MEETING
JULY 6, 2011
The meeting was called to order by President John Fike at approximately 9:00 a.m.
A list of attendees follows the minutes.
Tom Vickery made a motion to approve the Secretary’s report. The motion was seconded and passed.
Treasurer’s Report: One report for the last two months and one for year end. Only income was dues, but we still came in about $500 under budget. Postage will have to be increased due to increases at the Post Office. Donations and Domain Name Registration were not budgeted for. Approved money for revamping of the website-$1500.00 was approved at the Annual Meeting, but no bills have been presented as yet. John will be pushing for the website to be up and running by the date of the Annual Meeting.
A motion was made to accept the Treasurer’s Report. The motion was seconded and passed.
John will be getting out a memo before the Annual Meeting regarding the budget and perhaps some changes.
The Treasurer’s reports follow the minutes.
Lister of the Year: there are 8 candidates—very good response from towns all over the state.
Annual Meeting: Speakers will be Kevin from Real Data and Chad from Avitar, a tax mapping company. More information on these speakers will be forthcoming prior to the Annual Meeting. At one time, there were
70-80% of towns who had some version of tax mapping. About a third of those have not kept their maps current. At present, about half the towns in the state have tax mapping. Good tax mapping is a valuable asset for any town.
Membership List: still having trouble coming up with an accurate membership list, it is a work in progress.
CAMA—Version Control: important to get everyone on the same version. Frank Parsch got the cost tables up to date in 2007, then he left; Dave Tanner worked on tables-now he is gone. There is no one now to work on cost tables on an annual basis—no changes or upgrades since 2008. It is critical that we work on this.
Punch List: completed. Thanks to Bill Johnson who found enough money to accomplish this project. We need a new CAMA committee to set new goals. Volunteers for this committee are:
Pauline Moore, Lisa Truchon, Ed Clodfelter, Sally Archer, Louise Ferris-Burt, John or Noel from Fairlee, Chris Miele from NEMRC,
Cathy Powers & Martha Newton from PV&R.
Equalization Sales Study taught by Tom Vickery: will be held on August 12, 2011 in Randolph. The class will be limited to 100, and if there are more than 100 who want to attend, there will be a second class. Because we are in the midst of a volatile market with few sales and increasing numbers of foreclosures, VALA needs to study the market. One issue that needs addressing—is the Sales Study methodology appropriate for small towns. Tom Vickery made a motion that John Fike be authorized to contact the Tax Commissioner to get data from the last sales studies. The motion was seconded and passed.
A suggestion was made that a syllabus be provided for Tom’s class.
Bylaws: There may be some changes; John will get together with the committee.
Scholarships: Since only 2 people have taken advantage of the scholarship, should we continue to offer it; is it necessary; how can it be promoted—should changes be made; are people aware it exists.
Steve provided a hand out on the Education fund Outlook. The 2012 education tax has increased—first time since Acts 60 & 68 were enacted. When asked on what the average cost per student, $8500.00 was based, Steve said it wasn’t based on anything and the amount was sup0posed to be adjusted each year. It is a fictitious number set by the legislature that only benefits big towns and those who get sate aid. The tax rate is up because the education grand list has decreased. The declining school population is an issue that is of concern. A couple of interesting notes that may or may not be known: 1.) 70% of the education tax comes from the property tax and 2.) The Community High School of Vermont, [the largest high school in the state with 4100 students and 47 full time teachers and approximately 350 part-time adjunct teachers distributed among the state’s nine correctional facilities] is now permanently funded by the education fund.
There is a bill in the legislature to have the State bill and collect the education property taxes. A consultant has been hired for the sum of $200,000.00 to look into education financing, and is to report back to Joint fiscal by January 18, 2012 with their findings.
There are changes in the language for penalties for misfiling homestead declarations—8% penalty if the results are a lower tax bill, and 3% penalty if results are a higher tax bill. It will be up to the towns to decide whether to put it into effect.
Current Use—one goal is to get rid of land “parked” in the Current Use program. Some of the criteria addressed this situation—permits for waste system and potable water—making it more advantageous and user friendly, while making the rules more applicable to those who would abuse the system. Web based system for forms—this won’t affect local offices as much as the Current Use Department.
There is the on-going maintenance with NEMRC & CAMA and what more can be done to automate the cost table data—populating the tables from Marshall & Swift.
Equalization Study—there is a tremendous amount of data available to Listers—PV&R just need to know how Listers want it formatted. It would be good if VALA did an analysis on what is wanted and needed.
District Advisors—cy Bailey from Ed Clodfelter’s company will be replacing Nancy Merrill.
Renewable Energy Study—how to assess renewable energy projects. Legislature is looking at how difficult it would be to come up with a model for consistent assessment.
SPEED program—SPEED stands for Sustainably Priced Energy Development program. (Shouldn’t it be SPED program?) Goal is to promote the development of in-state energy sources which use renewable fuels with an additional goal of generating 20% of Vermont’s load with SPEED resources by 2017. The comment was made that there is no way these alternative energy sources would be cost effective without grants, subsidies, tax credits, etc.
Other notes of interest—Green Mountain Power is looking at 50-60 new sites for wind power; there is a study being done on net metering; conservation easements are being looked at in Senate Finance; another study committee looking at the lack of uniformity in valuation of land across towns. Listers are accused of putting too high an assessment on conserved land. There is a study on sales—before and after the encumbrance and the effect of an easement on value.
Also the Ways and Means Committee is looking at the viability of the State billing and collecting the state education taxes. Question was raised as to how this would be paid for. The state will never get it done cheaper than by how it is done now—by the towns.
Martha Newton—testing a new version of APEX—this one is more visual and more user friendly and will be tested before release by PV&R. APEX will be sending out updated versions and there will be a printable version. There is a $195 annual fee, but no extra charge for upgrades.
Tom Vickery—Current Use—VALA is helping the Coalition, looking at tiering, penalties, etc. VALA is part of a sub-committee looking at the future; something will be done this legislative session. Each group in the Coalition has different agendas but are coming to an understanding with lots of give and take from all sides.
Education Committee—John Vickery is looking for ideas for the November TOEC meeting.
Record Retention—Katie Sherman is no longer in that department. Looks like VALA will have to make the first move.
Condo’s Committee—Ed Clodfelter said the condo part of CAMA works “slick”.
IAAO conference will be held September 18th – 27th. Ed encouraged Listers to become members of the IAAO.
Newsletter/Website—Penny Allyn said that the person working on the website is doing so on their own time, so it hasn’t gotten up and running as quickly as she had hoped.
Annual Meeting will be held September 23, 2011 at Conant 102 at Vermont Tech. A short bio of the speakers will be going out soon.
Meeting adjourned at 12:05 p.m.
Carol Hammond, Secretary