NOVEMBER 2, 2011

The meeting was called to order at approximately 9:00 a.m. by President John Fike.   A list of attendees follow the minutes.

The first order of business was the election of officers.

Louise Ferris-Burt made the motion to re-elect Pat French as Vice President.  The motion was seconded and passed.

The motions were made to re-elect Carol Hammond as Secretary and Louise Ferris-Burt as Treasurer.  The motions were seconded and passed.  Paul Wildasin made the motion that the Secretary cast one vote for the slate of officers.  The motion was seconded and passed.


VLCT—Steve Jeffreys—the abatement proposal by the Governor on education tax that will require approval by legislature.  Ways and Means Committee have already approved the measure.  It will allow for abatement of the education tax to the towns for the amount they owe to the education fund.  Municipal taxes have to be abated by same percentage as the education tax.  Towns will be reimbursed for the amounts as they abate.  The figures of at least 50% damages for abatement and that taxpayers have to be out of their homes or homes can’t be inhabited for at least 90 days, have been mentioned, but there is nothing in the language of the bill that will go through the legislature that uses those numbers.  The Tax Commissioner has been given authority to put forth procedures to abate and gives the Tax Commissioner a lot of flexibility—she will be looking for input from towns.  This gives VALA an opportunity to work with the Tax Commissioner as to what is needed.  Several questions were raised about abatement and the percentages of abatement based on extent of damage. No decision has been made as to whether it is for the parcel as a whole or just improvements.  Abatement runs from April 1—tax year is from April 1 but there is nothing in statute that says that, just a few lines in statute written in 1787.  This allows for a lot of leeway.   Since towns do things differently, it is important to get information to the Tax Commissioner—there is no “one size fits all”.   Hopefully the Tax Commissioner will meet with VALA before making final decisions.  Since there are so many variables, Steve encouraged towns to get information to him and to PV&R so that the many different scenarios can be presented to the Tax Commissioner and the legislature for their decisions.

The question was raised as to how this is going to be funded and Steve answered by saying that there is five to six million dollars more in the education fund than previously thought.  The reserve account is full.  But, because property values are going down etc,  there will be a two to three cent increase in the education tax next year.  There is an estimated $110 million in property damages as a result of the hurricane with five to seven towns were really hard hit.  Steve recommended that towns wait awhile before abating, to see how long people are out of their homes, damages, etc.  Parameters for how this is all going to be handled are still to be determined.

Much more discussion followed on abatements, plus abatement on penalties and interest.

The BAR association has recommended that issues of destroyed property, changing property lines,  destroyed land records, planning and zoning issues, river changes, be given to a task force to recommended any necessary changes to law


The administration of the education property tax; the state  would not get  involved in appraisal process, just billing and collecting;  questions have been raised as to how many more people would have to be hired to accomplish this.  It is before the Ways and Means Committee for a decision.


Open meeting law, public records, transparency—there are 260 exemptions to open information, public records laws.  Legislature needs to work on this.


Annual Meeting went well.  We now have an up to date membership list.  We are starting a new campaign to get new members. A membership committee will be appointed.

Education Committee—John Vickery talked about the upcoming class on January 19, 2012 on ratio studies taught by Bob Estey.

This seminar will cover the use of assessment ratio studies in mass appraisal, COD, etc. This seminar will give the new Lister and the experienced Lister the basics of how to determine the Level of Appraisal and degree of equity.

Town Officers Education Conference (TOEC)—-these will be held in Burlington on April 4th, Fairlee on April 10th, and Rutland on April 18th.  VALA will sponsor two workshops, one on record retention and the other on reading and interpreting deeds.

If anyone has ideas for workshops, please let John know.


Legislative Committee—Tom Vickery and Randy Viens—assessing and taxation of alternative energy sources.  Studies are being done to show increasing values of these facilities.  Right now, it is in the information gathering stage.  How do towers, wind mills, wind turbines, etc affect value…values of leases on a property.  Contracts are all different, small towns have never had to deal with this kind of thing.  It was suggested that it would be profitable to everyone if there could be a survey of sorts done of properties that have alternative energy sources and if there any sales that could substantiate increases in property values.


Newsletter—  Carol will be cross trained to be able to do the Newsletter.  Penny is looking for pictures and/or articles for the January newsletter.


Current Use Coalition—Tom Vickery  feels something will pass in some version with a penalty provision.  Decisions should be forthcoming from a  meeting to be held December 2nd. 

Deb Brighton said that from her study she did not see that Listers had over valued land in current use which has been the accusation by many for the last year.


Website—new website is nearly done.  Chuck Burt has been extremely helpful.  The new website address is

Penny still needs short bios and some pictures for the website.


Financial report—new format which looks good and should make it easier for Budget Committee to come up with a good budget for the next year.

Tom was asked if he had a consultant yet who will look at our ratio studies.  PVR is getting together info that was requested—has not been downloaded yet.  It is a work in progress.



Goals and Objectives—cross training for newsletter, effective membership committee to retain and attract new members, Lister education, functioning new website, VALA a strong advocacy in Legislature, review and update of bylaws—needs to be done by the July meeting in order to have any changes  ready for voting at next annual meeting


Pauline made a motion to approve the minutes of Sept. 14.  The motion was seconded and passed.

A motion was made to approve the minutes of the Annual Meeting with corrections.  The motion was seconded and passed

Treasurer’s report—new recording device for Carol.  Paul Wildasin made a motion to approve the Treasurer’s report.  The motion was seconded and passed.  A suggestion for an additional  column showing the percentage of over or under budgeted amounts.


PVR—Michelle Wilson—in middle of equalization studies, trying to enhance the enhancements of last year.  Further work has been done on  property transfers….some enhancements are being tested which would give Listers a read only capacity and the ability to download all sales  in the state and export them to an excel spreadsheet. Documentation will be sent to each town, using the current use download email address.  Listers need to check it out and see how it works and make any suggestions.  Won’t have view of anything that hasn’t been completed, still in a quasi-confidential mode.   Can be searched by name, address, date, property location, category codes, etc. etc.

PVR will be working with Real Data to provide a broader search sales base within a couple weeks.  Instructions will be sent by mail and email.  Because of tighter budgets, documents etc will be sent via email and PVR will be using the current use email addresses to send information..  Listers are encouraged to check email on a regular basis as

Working on a current use on-line system.  This should streamline the process to be more user friendly for applicants and more efficient for the state.  They will be working with agriculture departments, towns, county foresters, town clerks, and asking for feedback for further refinements, —should be on line by 2012-2013.

Funding will be coming from the property tax return—from the additional revenue that will be generated from the increase in tax for working farms that transferred property, no longer do farms get reduced rate but pay the same as anyone else.

PVR is also working on mobile homes,  questions have been raised by Town Clerks and Listers such as should there always be a bill of sale, how can you know when a mobile home enters or leaves town, is it real property, should it be on the grand list, etc.  In the future there will be a bill of sale, PTTR, and a deed as in any other real estate transaction and therefore will be on the grand list.  There is not much in statute about mobile homes.  A letter will be going out to towns that will clarify many of these issues.

The EPTTR is still in its first year, it is still a work in progress, but already 43% of attorneys have been using  them which is very encouraging since they had only projected 20% in the first year.   Clerks have 30 days  to complete the EPTTR’s.

On the equalization study, Listers shouldn’t assume that all the sales information is correct, because the information may not be correct on the PTTR.  Michelle will present how to use the report to the Listers in January.  It is has been proposed that the sales information  be posted on the state website and Michelle asked the group how they felt.  Privacy issues were discussed versus the ease of having everything on one website.

Chris Miele:   NEMRC is working on a program where Listers can limit what information is put out for public view.  There is a need to determine what information is really public.  Listers need to be really careful as to the information that is included on the grand list—what is really necessary.  In the next few months, NEMRC will be putting out a program which will allow Listers to include only the information that they want.  We need to know what information we can distribute and still be safe.

Also, we only need to send out a grand list in the format that we normally use.

Webinars—in November, reconciling grand list

It is imperative that the grand list be sent by 12/31;  this is sent to Michelle who in turn sends it to Brad James for education fund calculations.  Spring grand list seminars will be held as usual.  If it is not sent, calculations from a prior grand list could be used which would cause funding problems if there was a large disparity between the incorrect and correct grand list.

Ed Clodfelter—CAMA—nothing new to change.  VALA could become an IAAO affiliate which would give us a group membership and access to the IAAO library and other benefits.  It would lend credence to VALA regarding certification.   Membership is $180.00

Pauline Moore made the motion that VALA become an affilitate of  IAAO.  The motion was seconded and after discussion, the motion was defeated.  Tom Vickery asked for criteria for membership, to what does it subject members.

Pauline Moore made the motion to explore being an affiliate member of IAAO and for Ed Clodfelter to bring back a report at the January 2012 meeting.   The motion was seconded and passed.

Paul Wildasin made the motion to adjourn.  The motion was seconded and passed.  The meeting was adjourned at 12:10 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Carol Hammond




John Fike Reading Windsor
Louise Ferris-Burt Bethel Windsor
Randy Viens Essex Chittenden
Ed Clodfelter Berlin Washington
Lisa Truchon Lincoln Addison
Charles Mason Pawlet Rutland
Penny Allyn Reading Windsor
Paula Beal Bethel Windsor
Mimi Burstein Bethel Windsor
Janice Arnold Grand Isle Grand Isle
Susan Lawrence Grand Isle Grand Isle
Joyce Scribner Manchester Bennington
Pauline Moore Manchester Bennington
Teresa Godfrey Brookfield Orange
Camilla Roberts Rockingham Windham
Martha Newton PVR
Carol Ackley Plymouth Windsor
Noёl Walker Fairlee Orange
Gussie Graves Fayston Washington
Tom Marrone Plymouth Windsor
Chris Miele NEMRC
Paul Wildasin Woodstock Windsor
Michelle Wilson PVR
Todd LeBlanc So. Burlington Chittenden
Christie Wright District Advisor
Pat French Randolph Orange
Tom Vickery Stowe Lamoille
John Vickery Burlington Chittenden
Carol Hammond Vernon Windham


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