MINUTES OF THE JULY 2, 2014 VALA BI-MONTHLY MEETING
The meeting was called to order by President John Fike at 10:10 a.m. with 20 towns and 11 counties represented.
Steve Jeffreys—most of the Miscellaneous Tax Bill dealt with Listers—the education property tax rate was wet which results in a $49.5 million dollar increase in property taxes for schools or 5.1%. Nonresident property tax rates went up 5.2% or 7 ½ cents. The Legislature played games with the residential rates, the tax rate for the average district went from $1.41 to $1.50—a 6.4% or 9 cent increase. A slight increase in Income sensitized –1.8% increase. Most all of the increase came from non-residential rate payers
The base rate went from $ .94 to .98 but the base education rate received by towns has been reduced.
Legislature made changes on definition of homestead– previously, if a person was domiciled in a property as of April 1st, they were considered a resident and could file a homestead. That has been changed to say that a person can declare a homestead if they reside at the property for a minimum of 183 days per year—they are applying the same definition as for income tax. This is effective January 1, 2015.
Babs commented that the Westminster Listers will not be counting days.
Owner occupied housing subsidy covenants…. Legislature mandated that valuation shall not be less than 60% and not more than 70% of fair market value if not subject to housing covenants—effective January 1, 2015. It is not completely clear as to who will decide what percentage will be used—Listers or governing body of the town. Therefore for these properties, the definition of fair market value is different from other classes of properties.
Exempt properties—Expanded effective Jan 1, 2015, buildings and lands may qualify for the public, pious, and charitable exemption if they are owned and occupied by a health, recreation, and fitness organization exempt from federal income taxes and uses its income entirely for its exempt purpose and promotes exercise and healthy lifestyles for the community and serve citizens of all income levels. Need to be voted exemptions.
Gas line extension in Addison County will be valued by PV&R using the cost approach but Listers will have to defend the value through the appeal process. Effective January 1, 2015.
Ways and Means Committee would not agree to help towns defend values for utilities. A summer study will be talking about this.
The time frame for appealing sales study has been changed to 35 days from the date that PV&R mails the study.
Open Meeting Law: this is published on the VLCT website. There was discussion on what was considered open meeting and what was exempt, i.e. appeals, hearings, signing the grand list are open meetings while routine administration work, site assessment and deliberative sessions are exempt.
Agendas and minutes are to be posted on town website plus designated places around town.
Ed Clodfelter said that IAAO is continuing to offer a half-price sale on membership and encouraged Listers to take advantage of this. He also commented that national parcel IDs are on the horizon.
Michelle Wilson gave an update on Lister education. Classes are overfull and new towns are participating. Two classes that will be offered—the 171 Course, Standards and Ethics—needed for designation, and Income Approach to Valuation 102. The Ratio Studies Class will take place in August.
The most popular speaker at the TOEC’s was Bill Smith. 2015 will mark the 75th anniversary of TOEC’s in Vermont. They are looking for ideas to make it a special meeting. The Librarians will be back in attendance next year and UVM will sponsor the meetings.
Jim Knapp—as of January 15, 2015 there will be a new definition of fair market value for solar projects—PVR will present a model to value and a cap rate will be set –a solar project will only need to be valued once—value is fixed for life of the project which is typically 25 years. The new websites for solar projects are supposed to be more user friendly. Once the information is entered, three valuations will be calculated—high, average and low. Use the average value multiplied by 70% and that is the value for the project for the next 25 years. Training will be done, and the manual will be updated. The exempt level for a project will be raised from 10 to 50 kW. Notices are supposed to be sent to Listers once a project is commissioned, however, the PSD said it was beyond their capabilities as a state agency to notify Listers when a project went on line. However, they do notify Select boards and Planning Boards. PVR will have forms for Listers to send to project owners but if they don’t provide necessary information, it will be at the Listers discretion to give their best estimate of value.
Babs stated that while it is great that Listers are getting assistance on assessment of solar projects, it would be good if PVR could provide guidelines to Listers for assessing cell towers as well.
Michelle Wilson said that a more complete list of exemption categories is now on NEMRC.
Lister of the Year—7 candidates this year, will hopefully be making a selection from those 7 after the regular meeting today.
John reported there is now a Lister on the Current Use Advisory Board. Looking for a Selectboard member to be on the board; it is a governor’s appointment. How can we get names out there for consideration. Volunteers include Clarissa Holmes from Hartford, Charles Mason from Pawlet, Camilla Roberts from Rockingham, Randy Viens from Essex and Tom Vickery from Waterbury. This covers a good cross section of the State. There has been no news on this as yet. Jim Knapp will check on it.
IAAO class—ratio study—critical information for Listers to know—really good class
Doing active marketing for membership. Follow-ups for previous members. Forms are available.
Pauline Moore has designed a simple expense form to be used for submitting expenses. Form will be available on website.
Omission of filing abstract before grievance—
confess, write a letter, give it to Selectboard and give it to Town Clerk to file with new abstract
keep information from grievance meeting; file abstract, hold another grievance meeting, property owner doesn’t have to be present as long as a letter was filed, do deliberation, send results of grievance, etc.
Abandoned property—just keep listing it to last owner of record as of April 1.
Copies of Grand List—get the money first, then send a CD or give request to town clerk since she is now keeper of the grand list
Does foreclosed property need to be assessed annually–No
Damaged property—before lowering value, need documentation stating the impact of damages.
State wide property tax parcel mapping—
There are two programs presently
- VTRANS has million dollar grant that could be used to collect all the information available on state wide parcels. They don’t want to spend money until they have good information, and then there is the problem of finding the $300,000 annually to maintain the program
- A geographic group has $160,000 that could be used to create base maps for 6 northern counties; 14 towns could either get maps or upgrade outdated maps or update to a more current mapping standard. This is a one shot deal…seed money to get the project started and the towns would have to keep maps up to date at their own expense.
There is a RFP out for a study of what it would take to maintain the maps on a state wide basis. There are many uses for this data, not just for assessment purposes. It was felt that the state did not have a good handle on what we have already.
For a good example of what mapping can do for a town, check out the Warren town website and look at their parcel mapping.
The state would like better parcel mapping with layers of information, but there is no money to finance it. AOT would like roads, culverts, etc.
Since the flyovers for updating maps are infrequent, Google Earth is a good resource.
One last hot topic was whether or not sprinkler systems add to value to commercial buildings.
The next meeting will be on September 3, 2014.
Babs moved to adjourn at 12:05 p.m. The motion was seconded and passed.