BI-MONTHLY DIRECTORS MEETING MINUTES MARCH 7, 2012

MINUTES OF THE VALA DIRECTORS MEETING
MARCH 7, 2012

The Bi-Monthly VALA Meeting was called to order at 9:00 a.m. by President John Fike with 36 members in attendance.

Member Pauline Moore:  Made a motion to accept the minutes of the Jan 4, 2012 meeting.  The motion was seconded and passed.

Member Tom Vickery:  Made a motion to accept the Treasurer’s Report as read.  The motion was seconded and passed.

VALA President John Fike:  Reviewed his President’s Report which included comments on Education, Legislation, NEMRC, By-Laws, etc.

Treasurer Louise Ferris-Burt:  Suggested changing the date of the VALA meetings to the second Wednesday in the month or perhaps a Tuesday or Thursday.  Observing that often there is a conflict due to town meetings and holidays.  This item will be taken up under New Business.

VLCT Steve Jeffrey:  Suggested that VALA needs to take a position on changing the annual assessment date from April 1st to January 1st.

Also noted was that Rep. Tom Stevens of Waterbury is bringing back the issue of requiring Listers to make a rental unit report.  This is in response to problems due to Hurricane Irene, not being able to find housing units for those who lost their homes.  Suggested that perhaps VALA could form a sub committee to discuss this with Rep. Tom Stevens.

Another issue that has come up is the dual enrollment in State Colleges and Universities  by high school students who perhaps need additional challenges, etc.   The cost would be up to $2500 per student yearly and would be paid for out of the Education Fund.  This would be a means of Colleges/Universities to obtain money from the Education Fund.  A question was raised as to whether this would be only to schools in Vermont.

PV&R Bill Johnson:  Provided an update on the EPTTR (Electronic Property Transfer Record) which continues to go well with 40% coming in electronically.    Mr. Johnson reminded everyone of the March 15th deadline for errors.  Penalties for wrong filing of the homestead declaration was discussed—8% for wrong filing if the tax amount paid is too low and 3% for wrong filing if the tax amount paid is too high.

Also discussed was Selectboards that need to decide whether or not a penalty is to be charged.  Mr. Johnson also reviewed the changes taking place in filing of Veterans exemptions.  In January, a form was sent to each veteran who would then complete the form and forward it back to the VA.  The VA then would send a report of eligible veterans to the Listers in May.

Education Committee John Vickery:  An Education Committee update was provided.  This update referenced a website for determining the value of a photovoltaic system.

The Town Officers Education Conferences (TOEC) is scheduled for three locations in April.

Wednesday, April 4th at the Hilton in Burlington

Tuesday, April 10th at the Lake Morey Inn in Fairlee

Wednesday, April 18th at the Holiday Inn in Rutland.

Application may be made on line at www.uvm.edu/extension/community

VALA will be sponsoring two workshops at the TOEC, one on Reading and Interpreting Deeds and the other on Record Retention.

PV&R Michelle Wilson:   Distributed the Listers Education Program sponsored by PV&R.  These include Basic and Advanced Lister Training, Apex Sketching,  and three IAAO classes—Excel, Understanding Real Property Appraisal (excellent for new Listers/appraisers), and Fundamentals of Mass Appraisal.   PV&R will be gearing education to the upcoming certification.  These classes can be found on their website.

The certification outline has been completed and PV&R Education Members along with Mr. Bill Johnson are working on the internal process.

Member Todd LeBlanc:  Mentioned that IAAO has self study courses on line which can be completed in 2-3 months at a cost of about $100.

NEMRC Chris Miele and Ed Clodfelter:  Discussed current classes as well as classes being offered on line.  There will be three day classes being held on  Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9-11a.m.  The class format has been  changed, to meet the maximum number of participants allowed (13) per classroom.  This year classes are offered on line in a webinar format.  Set-up demo entity—each class will be 2 hours.  Mr. Clodfelter will hold one physical class in Randolph—13 computers will be provided.  One benefit of these classes is participants will be able to go back to their offices and practice on the demo entity.

Member Randy Viens:  Inquired about using money from the Education Fund for on line classes. The problem is that money from the Education Fund has to flow back to the State, because it is a self-funded Education  Program.  Only 50% of the money is being utilized by the towns, so 50% is still available therefore and not flowing back to the State.  It was suggested that perhaps a committee could be formed to approach the Legislature to address the changes in technology—participants would be able to take classes from their homes.  Wording is very rigid, and therefore changes need to be made to accommodate newer methods of education.  The model in place doesn’t always work, and was a result of a compromise/political move.

NEMRC Ed Clodfelter:  Provided an update on the CAMA committee.  At this time software does not need much adjusting/tweaking at this time.

NEMRC Chris Miele:   Annual Grand List Seminars coming up and  information is available on the NEMRC website.  Registration can be made on line.  Topics include how Listers affect taxes.

The Current Use Department will be presenting at the seminars.   Discussion will include Current Use and what to watch out for.

New—on line searches.   Grand list will be on line, but Listers will control what fields will be displayed.  New with CAMA– a tablet (ipad) feature which would be ideal for a larger town or one doing a reappraisal.  The tablet can be taken out in the field, where work can be entered into the tablet, then downloaded on the office computer.  Feature also speeds up process of linking photos—instructions are available on the web.

PV&R:  Advised members to be sure to download homestead declarations…which have been available since the first of February.

Membership Chair Penny Allyn:  Reviewed latest newsletter that has been forwarded to members.  Update on VALA website was provided, with outline of training session being set-up with Website Master/Designer Chuck Burt.  Training will focus on inserting information onto the website and  transitioning of website over to Penny Allyn, John Fike and Carol Hammond.

Legislative Committee Randy Viens:  Reviewed upcoming bills that would effect/impact  Listers.

H.588—in Gov. Ops Committee—proration of  the cost of appeals that go beyond the BCA .  There is good sponsorship for the bill and four of the people on the Committee studying this issue are also on the Ways & Means Committee.  The Legislator that introduced the bill has testified in Committee in favor of it.  A question was asked if liability was considered, that is if a town loses an appeal, will the town still be responsible for the Education Fund.  Wording appears to include sharing in losses.  Details are still being worked out.

Another bill that probably won’t go anywhere, is to authorize towns to be able to tax common land, which crosses town lines.

H.689—to lower the income sensitivity cap from $8,000 to $6,000.

H.716—clarify assessment of non-residential rental  property subject to covenants..  Both Rockingham and Essex have appeals from housing trusts with Essex’s appeal going to the Vt. Supreme Court. Rockingham is waiting for decision of the State Appraiser, Norman Wright.

Mr. Wright has put out a general opinion on this issue and if his decision is like his opinion, there will probably be a reduction in value of these properties.

Another bill that is in Committee is the taxation of renewable energy plants, under a uniform generation tax. They will be treated the same as railroads in that the State will tax them for the education fund only.  They will be taxed per megawatt, not by income approach or market value but on name plate capacity with a suggested rate of  $4 per kilowatt of name plate capacity.  The committee has looked at other states and the rates vary from $4 to $10 per kw.  This comes as a result of talking with developers who say they can’t get financing if they have to pay Fair Market Value.

Any type of renewable energy under 10 mw will be exempt—most of those systems would be residential.

The original bill has been drafted to look like the Committee’s Report and they hope it will pass this year.

Various questions were raised and Member John Vickery pointed out that there is a website with a free download on how to bill these systems.  Another comment was that small utilities are protesting the tax breaks for renewables.

Developers thought the income approach was fair and that the state could come up with an annual cap rate.

Member Pauline Moore:  Made a motion to ask PVR, in the interest of stability to come up with a cap rate using methodology of the income approach.  The motion was defeated.

Member Todd LeBlanc:  Made a motion that VALA look for a common methodology to achieve uniform assessment standard for determining value of solar and farm methane.  The motion was seconded and passed.

H.237—Current Use:  This bill is in the Senate Finance Committee and all members are pretty much on board with the suggestions offered by the Current Use Coalition.  (The Coalition’s position is attached)

H.763—Billing and Collection of Statewide Property Tax.

There is a lot of momentum for this bill.  However, there is a lot of concern on the part of many that this will be untrained people supervised by untrained Supervisors for the administration of this bill (an additional 20-30 people will be needed).  There are many objections to the $250,000 Request for Proposal (RFP) cost.

There is also the consideration of using the Common Level of Appraisal (CLA) to adjust the assessment not the tax rate.  Also, there would be wording changes that would have to be made in over 200 statutes.

It was stated that at least one of the reasons for the State to take over the billing and collection of the statewide property tax is the “Float”, i.e. the period of time between the collection of taxes by municipalities and the time the payments are sent to the Education Department during which time the money could be invested to earn some interest which helped offset municipal budgets.  This was one of the “perks” of Act 60 and it amounts to about $2.5
million.

There was discussion as to changing the assessment date from April 1st to January 1st.

Member Babs Lynde:  Made a motion that VALA opposes the state billing and collection of the statewide property tax.  The motion was seconded and passed.

Member Louise Ferris-Burt:  Made a motion that VALA continue to support their position of changing the assessment date from April 1st to January 1st.  The motion was defeated.

Member David Alexander:  Made a motion to give Northern New England Real Estate Network (NNEREN) VALA’s e-mail membership list.  The motion was seconded and passed.

VALA President John Fike:  Suggested forming an Executive Committee which would determine the strategy of Presidential progression.

Member Ed Clodfelter:  Made a motion to adjourn.  The motion was seconded and passed.

The meeting adjourned at 12:25 p.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

Carol Hammond

 

 

 

 

NAME

ATTENDEES

TOWN

COUNTY

Pat French

Randolph

Orange

John Vickery

Burlington

Chittenden

Thomas Vickery

Stowe

Lamoille

Penny Allyn

Reading

Windsor

Martha Newton

IT

Babs Lynde

Westminster

Windham

Joyce Scribner

Manchester

Bennington

Pauline Moore

Manchester

Bennington

Teresa Godfrey

Brookfield

Orange

David Alexander

Brookfield

Orange

Lisa Truchon

Lincoln

Addison

Don Sweetser

Randolph

Orange

Steve Jeffrey

VLCT

Noël Walker

Fairlee

Orange

Russell Collins

Fairlee

Orange

Tom Marrone

Plymouth

Windsor

Carol Ackley

Plymouth

Windsor

Bill Johnson

PVR

Robin Chapman

Fairfax

Franklin

Patricial McNall

Fairfax

Franklin

Bruce Shields

Eden

Lamoille

Todd LeBlanc

S Burlington

Chittenden

Chris Miele

NEMRC

Carolyn Kinney

Poultney

Rutland

Jeanne Johnson

Cabot

Washington

Carlton Domey

Cabot

Washington

Clarissa Holmes

Hartford

Windsor

Louise Ferris-Burt

Bethel

Windsor

Randy Viens

Essex

Chittenden

Ed Clodfelter

Berlin

Washington

Charles Mason

Pawlet

Rutland

Raymond Duquette

Pawlet

Rutland

Cheryl Tudhope

Orwell

Addison

John Fike

Reading

Windsor

Carol Hammond

Vernon

Windham

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