The meeting was called to order at 9:00 a.m. by President John Fike who welcomed those present.
There were 35 towns from 13 counties represented by approximately 60 Listers. PV&R was well represented as well as NEMRC.
In 2012, the VALA Bi-Laws were changed to elect the officers by the members at the Annual Meeting. The following slate of officers was approved by the VALA Board of Directors for election by the members at the 2013 Annual Meeting. Nominations can also be made from the floor for any of the following positions.
President: John Fike
Vice President: Todd LeBlanc
Secretary: Carol Hammond
Treasurer: Pauline Moore
With no other nominations forthcoming, Ed Clodfelter made a motion to accept the slate of officers recommended by the nomination committee. The motion was seconded and the motion passed.
The President’s Report was reviewed and is attached to these minutes.
An audit committee was formed this last year and an audit was completed of the financial operations of VALA. They reported that the financial statements of VALA appear to be fairly represented. Gussie Graves made a motion to accept the end of year financial statement. The motion was seconded and the motion passed.
Treasurer’s Report: Don Sweetser reviewed the VALA Budget for 2013-2014 and made a motion to accept the budget but recommended increasing the line items for mileage to $500 and the plaque/gifts line item to $200. Louise made a motion to amend the motion to increase the total of $5950 by $200 to $6150.Tara Rogerson recommended also increasing the education line item to $800. The motion to accept the amendment was passed. Back to the original motion to accept the budget of $6250. The motion passed.
Current Use Update—Elizabeth Hunt-New Current Use forms review identified as E-CUSE
Elizabeth introduced Doreen and Kate to the membership.
The new forms are still being developed. Data base end is almost done and will allow land owners to complete the form on line, co-ordinate with the county forester and submit the application electronically for processing. Kate and Doreen will go through and process the forms in co-ordination with the county forester. After approval, it will be sent to the Town Clerks for recording who will send back the recording information electronically. Maps will still be mailed out on paper and that will continue for at least of a year, probably more like 3-5 years… E-CUSE’s will not replace the transfer of files on line. That system will stay in place. Listers will be able to view applications received but not yet approved.
Elizabeth then gave an overview of the changes with the new form, additional information required, etc. and as a result the form will be two pages so an extra fee will be charged for the second page.
She emphasized the fact that the old forms need to be discarded.
Also mentioned was that there are 12 foresters for 250+ towns and there are approximately 18,000 acres currently enrolled in the Current Use Program.
New forms will be mailed out to Town Clerks or Listers.
When the landowner establishes their account, they can select a consulting forester who will be authorized to fill out the application form. After the consulting forester has finished filling out the form, the land owners then need to sign it electronically. Available PDF forms will be on line for the present. Landowners will be able to fill out these forms by late winter or early spring. There were other questions and further discussion.
Elizabeth also reminded Listers to be sure to make any necessary corrections to homestead declarations that were affected by current use changes. Be sure to send 411 after the last download in November. They are hoping to be done by the first part of November.
John Fike reminded the group that in April, Windows XP will no longer be supported…..will have to change to either Windows 7 or Windows 8.
Ed Clodfelter: VALA is now an affiliate of IAAO and Ed is Vermont’s representative to IAAO. He attended the international conference Grand Rapids. IAAO membership is about 7000, with 28 chapters and 55 affiliates from 21 countries. There were about 1100 present at the conference which was very interesting and a lot of fun. Their educational approach at the conference was educational tracts–commercial, residential, technology, components of market, income issues. There was something of interest for everyone. IAAO HAS brought back the half price membership….particularly pertinent for this year with the push for Lister Certification. Ed has the information for applications for membership in IAAO.
National exposure for classes that are offered. Basis for designations have changed, criteria more strict—good to become a member now. Ed will be teaching two classes this fall—Microsolve Comparables class on October 16th and a basic CAMA class on November 8th. Class is restricted to 13.
When asked, Ed said he will be putting together an advanced CAMA class at some point.
Another affiliate is the NRAAO which is the regional part of IAAO. Anthony Homicki spoke for a few minutes about his background and then membership in NRAAO, which was formed 50 years ago and of which Vermont was a part of the NRAAO. Application cost is $50 and registration is kept at a reasonable price.
The purpose of the NRAAO is to:
- Provide training and educational opportunities for assessing officials;
- Organize an annual conference on assessment administration for the benefit of assessing officers in the Northeastern United States and Canadian Provinces;
- Improve the standards of assessment practices in the Northeastern United States and Canadian Provinces;
- Better acquaint assessing officials of the Northeastern United States and Canadian Provinces with more efficient and uniform administration of tax laws; and
- Furnish an opportunity for discussion upon subjects relating to general property taxation.
(These five points are taken from the NRAAO website.)
Bill discussed education and that in the future it may become mandatory. Awards for Lister Certification were given to the following people: Sally Archer, Ed Clodfelter, Gussie Graves, Charles Mason, Ron Paquette, Janet Rothchild, Mary Jo Teeter, and Lisa Truchon.
Bill announced to the membership that he was resigning in the spring and introduced his successor, Jim Knapp. Jim will be finishing the work on a Statutes Class that Bill has created. Bill has worked as PV&R Director for 15 years.
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 Susan Fletcher from the town of Richford. The Richford Town Clerk came with the Richford Lister Board to honor her. CONGRATULATIONS SUSAN!
When asked how many people use the E-PTTR program, very few present raised their hands. The Tax Commissioner would like to see 60-70% participation. At some point it will probably be mandated.
Recently, Ed Clodfelter was awarded the Sherry Vermillya Award by the NRAAO for Vermont. Ed was one of 8 recipients for this award which is recognition of “outstanding service to the assessment profession.” CONGRATULATIONS, ED!
John Vickery stated that there was still room in the upcoming IAAO Workshop 155—Depreciation Analysis, taught by Bob Estey. The cost to VALA members is $277 and nonmembers $300.
The featured speaker for the morning session was Ben Vicere a forestry consultant for the State. Ben presented the role of the forester, which is more than half paperwork. He recommended that Listers invite the forester to the Listers office. Foresters do market Current use. He said the motivation for enrolling in Current Use is preservation of forests and tax benefits. Ben discussed areas such as an aging forest, appropriate cutting, annual changes to the economics of timber harvest, etc.
Randy Viens talked about the Current Use Committee and changes that they have recommended to the Legislature, thus far with no results. A panel of senators will be holding open forums to solicit public input on the Current Use program. A copy of the schedule of meetings was emailed to the list serve on Sept. 24th. If you didn’t get a copy, please let me know and I will send one to you.
It is now required that exempt properties must be included with the grand list effective April 1, 2014. Insurance value can be used if it is not possible to obtain fair market value. This will enable the state to see what it is losing in tax revenue.
Atty. Charles Merriam—PUTTING A SPARK IN TOEC
Mr. Merriam prefaced his remarks about his subject by saying that there are two forces against local government, inertia and the drive toward efficiency. The goal of local government is to promote health, safety and welfare of the local citizenry; not a drive toward efficiency.
Efficiency points toward centralization of duties. Hired assessors are efficient but too close to Select boards and/or Town Managers since they hired by the Select boards and/or Town Managers. The best model is that a hired assessor works for the Listers.
In the past the TOEC’s offered workshops and classes for all town employees. However, over the years, the main topics have been geared toward Listers, to the extent that the Town Clerks and Treasurers hold their own meetings and are no longer a part of the TOEC’s. In order to bring back the Clerks and also Librarians, these groups need to work with VALA and go to UVM to discuss the validity and importance of the meetings. Charlie suggested that perhaps the Vermont Institute for Government could be involved.
UVM is the administrator of TOECs and the organization of the meetings is a lot of work. If the Town Clerks/Treasurers wish to keep their meetings separate, there should be an ex officio on each other’s board.
Perhaps meetings at different locations would be a solution. Another problem is that Town Clerks have budgets for mileage and attending meetings which most Listers don’t enjoy. There followed a lively discussion.
With no more business to discuss, the meeting adjourned at 2:30 p.m.