BI-MONTHLY GENERAL MEETING MINUTES SEPT. 4, 2013

The meeting was called to order at approximately 10:25 a.m. with 30 in attendance representing 25 towns and 10 counties.

John stated that we are working on memberships and it was suggested to bring a buddy to the annual meeting.  We have a budget to present and a slate of officers for voting, and an audit report.

We have received approximately $2700 and need $1800 more to meet our goal for membership.

The annual meeting schedule is full—very busy.

Steve Jeffrey and John Fike have been working on a legislative committee looking at nontaxable properties.  They are also working together on the solar tax issue with PVR, and homestead declarations. John is looking for someone to represent VALA at meetings on solar taxation.

Bill Johnson:

  1.  Announced that in the spring, he will be retiring from his position at PVR for a variety of reasons.  He then introduced Jim Knapp who will be his replacement.
  2. Supreme Court decision called the Vanderminden Case:  dealt with property valuation that crossed town lines.  In the town of Wells, lake property on Lake St Catherine which goes over into Poultney.  The Court determined that the total value across towns must be fair market value.  Court wants an institutional fix to maintain uniformity.  There will be a meeting with VALA, PVR and VLCT to discuss this issue as many towns have property that straddles more than one town, and hopefully reach decisions that would not negatively affect valuation.  The summary/decision and its impact will be posted on the VALA website.

The State is requiring a listing of all exempt properties.  Insurance values provided by the non-profits would be acceptable as value. These properties need to be included in the2014  grand lists.   This would give the State an idea of what they are losing in tax revenue.

The 10% reduction in qualified rental units in subsidized housing will be going away.  The 10 years is up with 2014 grand list.  More information will be coming out soon.

Local exemptions will need to be voted at town meeting.

The solar tax is overwhelmingly unpopular.  Renewable energy advocates say that the municipal tax is onerous, and they can’t deal with it.  The state capacity tax is more costly to administer than the revenue it brings in.

Another “popular” issue is the deadline on homestead declarations.  The Tax Commissioner has used transitional authority to move timely declarations and adjustments to Oct 15.  The Tax Department will give towns information by Nov. 1.

On Sept 15 the adjustments will be sent to towns for declarations after April 15 to September 1st.  That should take care of most of the declarations.  This issue on timely filing and adjustments will most likely go back to the legislature for review.

In addition to this change in the declaration date, Section J of the bill –Domicile dispute regarding a penalty, it starts same as grievance—Lister, BCA, the courts, etc. This will be on the VALA website.

Babs thanked Bill for what he has done since being with PVR and for always being accessible for questions and concerns and for always answering telephone calls and emails.  She also expressed the hope that his successor will do the same.

April 1, 2014 is the effective date for the inclusion of nonprofit properties into the grand list using insurance values.  They have the responsibility to provide the information to the Listers. If Listers have a value, that can be used rather than insurance values.  If there is an appeal, insurance value will defer to Fair Market Value.  The wording will be published on the website.  It was suggested that PVR could develop a letter, send it to the Listers for tweaking for their town, to be sent out to the non- profits.  A question was raised –Will state, municipal, and school properties will be included.  The intent is that every property will be listed one way or the other.  ANR values are provided by the state.  It was noted that sometimes insurance values can be higher than fair market value, and could show an overvaluation of properties.

What the state gets really excited about are towns that have no exempt properties shown on their grand lists.

The time that values have to be held as a result of appeals to the State Appraiser is 3 years.

The IAAO Fundamentals of Real Property Appraisal is being offered by PVR.  To date, enrollment has not been very high.  This class is necessary for the certification designation program.  Right now it is borderline whether the class will be held.

The IAAO class—2 day Depreciation Class in October, taught by Bob Estey. This is a very practical class which can be put into use immediately.  Factors that didn’t mean anything when property values were escalating are now very important in a soft market.  It was noted that the class might not be as helpful for a brand new Lister as for one who has been a Lister for a while and understands the concepts of CLA and COD, etc.

Transparency regarding delinquent taxes.  A few years ago the Supreme Court ruled that any adjusted tax information cannot be disclosed to anyone but property owner with few exceptions.  When towns report delinquent tax information in the Annual Town Report, it is recommended that names are not specifically associated with a delinquent tax amount.  The tax amount is public record but any adjustments made to the tax amount are not public information or the net tax after adjustment.

Another issue that has seen quite a bit of activity on the list serve is the requirement of a PTR when there is a transfer of property due to foreclosure.  The next paragraph is the statement from PVR:

     A PTR is required when there is a “transfer by deed of title to property. “32 VSA 9602. The timing of the transfer depends upon the type of foreclosure.

(1)Strict Foreclosure:  Generally, in a strict foreclosure, title transfers with the judgment order and a PTR must be filed when the foreclosure judgment is filed. Note, however, that pursuant to the recent amendment to 12 VSA 4531, at either party’s request or the court’s discretion, the decree may order sale of the property, in which case (similar to court -ordered sales, below) title to the property does not transfer and a PTR is not required until the court’s confirmation of sale order is filed in the land records   See 12 VSA 4531 (a).

(2)Court-Ordered Sale:  If the mortgage includes a power of sale clause, either party may request that the court order the sale of the property. 12 VSA 4531a(a). Within 10 days of the sale, the seller is required to file a report of the sale with the court. The court may issue an order confirming the sale or set aside the sale and order a resale. 12VSA 4533(a). If the sale is confirmed, the confirmation order must be recorded in the land records, which “shall effectuate the transfer of title to such real estate upon recording.” 12VSA 4533(b). In this type of foreclosure, transfer of title occurs when the confirmation order is filed in the land records and a PTR is required at that time.

3) Non-judicial Foreclosure Sale: -Pursuant to 12 VSA 4531a(b), a mortgagee may “exercise the power of sale without first commending a foreclosure action or obtaining a foreclosure deed.” 12VSA4531a(b). Within 90 days of the non-judicial foreclosure sale, the seller must file the foreclosure deed, a copy of the notice of sale and an affidavit in the town’s land records. ‘12 VSA 4533a(a). Title transfers at the time the deed and affidavit are recorded. 12 VSA 4533a(c).

Taxing waterfront property:  most towns do some kind of front foot assessment.  An appellant in an appeal felt that the way waterfront property was improperly assessed.  If properties are in more than one town, the whole property needs to be assessed and then allocated among the towns.  The sum of the parts must equal the whole.

A few other issues that were discussed:

Timberland valuation:  good discussion for November meeting.  Land grading and/or a separate neighborhood code could be used.  Perhaps a good topic for TOEC meeting in the spring

Best practices—perhaps include a section in the newsletter for tips for Listers.

Keeping information from the last reappraisal all together.

Keeping a notebook which would include a copy of the abstract, downloads, grievances to the Listers and BCA; sales, pictures, land schedule, etc.

Listers Budget—Listers need to set their own budget—need to be proactive; it will eventually cost the Selectboard if they don’t fund Listers adequately.

Retention of records—how long should we keep Lister cards, etc. The State has not addressed the issue of electronic records stored offsite or hard copy.  VALA’s Goal is to get the State back on track for record retention.

Don Sweetser told the group why he resigned as Treasurer.  He and his wife are selling their home and will be relocating to North Carolina to be near their son.

With no further discussion, the meeting adjourned at 11:50 a.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Carol Hammond, Secretary

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