The impact notices slated to arrive in early March will have tentative values that can be disputed by property owners.
Those who do not have questions and accept their assessment do not need to take any action.
Residents with questions will be able to call the assessor’s office March 15-18 between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to make an appointment to meet with the assessor.
The meetings happen April 5-9; residents should plan to provide support for their claims such as a recent appraisal, building contract or comparable sales from the community.
Values will not be changed at that meeting, but residents will be advised of the outcome by mail during May.
The grievance process begins after May 1 and any residents who dispute their assessments can meet with the Board of Assessment Review on May 25, Boone said. The final step for an assessment grievance is small claims court, which will produce a definitive result, Boone said.
Out of approximately 3,500 parcels in the town, around 30 went all the way to small claims court during the last revaluation.
The new assessments will factor into school taxes in September and then county taxes in January 2011, he said.
Informational meeting slated for Feb. 25
Property owners who want to know how their assessments were created will have a chance to find out next week as the town of Granville hosts an informational meeting relating to the revaluation process. The public is encouraged to attend the Feb. 25 session.
The meeting will start at 7 p.m. and is slated for the Granville Town Hall but could be moved to another venue, likely the Granville Elementary School cafeteria, if town officials get the sense the turnout will be larger than expected. The Town Hall holds about 50 people.
“Unless we get a feeling that there’s going to be a lot of people, it will be there (Town Hall); usually in the hearing before the numbers come out we’d be lucky to get 30 people,” Granville Town Assessor Dan Boone said.
All of the participants in the recently completed process are scheduled to attend the informational session as well as New York State Office of Real Property representative Steve Poluzzo (referred to as a CRM or customer relationship manager) and Nancy Strong, the consultant who assisted Granville’s assessment team of Boone and clerk Dorothy Roberts with computer programming work.
Boone said Strong is a career assessor who has conducted the revaluations in Hartford and Hampton most recently and has worked in “quite a few different towns in Washington County.”
“We’ve spent a lot of time, probably thousands of hours, trying to equalize the property values; we should be in good shape,” he said.
Boone and Roberts will also be on hand for the meeting. Boone said he and Roberts had personally looked at nearly all of the 3,500 parcels in the town.
“Everything that had structures on it,” he said. Properties that were inaccessible were examined by looking at aerial photography provided by the county.
On Friday Boone reiterated a point he has made a number of times before at town meetings calling on residents to come out to the informational setting and learn about what went into the process before it “gets personal.”
“It’s so (residents) can understand the process of the ‘reval,’” Boone said of the upcoming meeting. Coming out to this meeting before seeing their impact notices is key to understanding the process that went into every assessment, he said.
“People just see their own numbers and don’t realize what they’re based on and how they’re arrived at; it’s important to know how they’re derived — we don’t just pull that number out of the air,” he said.
The meeting will provide and chance for property owners to hear about what went into this reassessment versus the most recent, which took place in 2005.
Part of the meeting will be an explanation of the process and part will be answering questions from the public about the process, not regarding specific properties.
There are a number of issues Boone said he hoped to explain or clarify.
He noted two of the biggest misconceptions about property values and assessments are the beliefs that the real estate market is way down locally and assessments are the chief reason for tax increases.
Boone said the local real estate market trended as it had in the past and experienced a milder version of national events; in this case values declined, but less drastically than they had nationally.
The drop in the local market, about 5 percent after trending up for several years, will have little effect on the revaluation, he said.
Slow sales have monthly sales figures dropping from approximately 25 per month to about half a dozen per month for most of last year, he said.
Boone said people were aware of the bargains in the market, but the bigger picture showed there had been much less change in value.
“Values have not gone down as much as people perceive,” he said.
U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development sales and foreclosures were deals that caught people’s attention but those same properties would be worth much more after being fixed up and part of the regular market, according to Boone. “They don’t represent the market value of a home,” he said.
The local drop has taken place mostly during the past year, he said, and the values being used to determine assessments are from comparable sales that took place during the past several years when home values were continuing to rise.
“June 30, 2009, we’re not allowed to use any sales after that,” he said.
Boone said the recent drop in the real estate market seemed to be coming to an end, however, because it has stabilized since October.
“It seems like it’s about bottomed out. We haven’t seen the market change much in past three months,” Boone said.
When determining what as assessment should be, Boone said, assessors tried to establish a parcel’s market value by comparing it to four other similar properties that sold within the past three years. The exceptions come in when there are no comparables, such as large farm sales or of homes valued at more than $200,000, because there have not been enough recent sales to make a comparison.
In those cases, Boone said, the state provides information to help the local office arrive at a number.
Another factor making assessments such a focal point is their connection to property taxes. Tax rates are the culprit in rising taxes, not higher assessments, Boone said. Thinking of the amount of money raised by the town or county through taxes as a pie chart, Boone said, if assessments went up tax rates could drop and still raise the same amount of money. Tax rates, not assessments, determine what share of the pie residents are tasked with personally paying. Assessments could rise and taxes would stay the same if the tax rate were reduced, he said.
Following the informational meeting
the impact notices will go out to property owners and the “informals” will begin when property owners can meet with the assessor to provide information they think might change their assessment. Changes could be made at that point. Boone said.
Next will come grievance day when residents can meet with the Board of Assessment Review to challenge their assessment. The final option is going to small claims court; typically this takes place in August and September. Any decision issued by the court is binding for a property owner.
One good thing about a recent revaluation is that it allows property owners to receive the maximum on exemptions such as the state’s School Tax Relief program, Boone said. “We’ve tried to be as fair as humanly possible, but revals are never easy,” he said.