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Average town valuation down 5.9 percent


August 19, 2009
MEREDITH — As Meredith taxpayers receive their new assessment values, Meredith Tax Assessor Jim Commerford explained to selectmen the why assessed valuations in town were going down.

Commerford reported that the valuation of taxable property in Meredith had decreased from $1,944,660,288 to $1,829,733,283, going down about 5.9 percent. This was the first valuation update in Meredith since 2006. Commerford reported that property values in Meredith had leveled off and stabilized in 2007, and begun to decline in 2008.

In a ratio study analysis, Commerford noted that this year's valuation hypothetically could have equaled 105 percent, within guidelines set by the Department of Revenue Administration. He warned against longer intervals between assessment updates, and said that such intervals could lead to deterioration of assessment equity, meaning that taxes would not be proportional across all classes of property.

Looking at different classes of property, Commerford found a general downward trend in property values. In properties valued between $100-299,000, property values went down, on average, about nine percent. Properties between $300-499,000 went down in valuation by about 8.1 percent, and properties between $500-999,000 went down in valuation by about seven percent.

In stark contrast, properties between $1.5-1.99 million went up in valuation by an average of 3.8 percent. Properties valued at $2 million and more went up by an average of 9.6 percent. Commercial/industrial properties, valued in aggregate, went up in valuation by 5.2 percent.

Commerford said that several factors explained the average rise in property value for the high-end residential and commercial/industrial valuations. For properties assessed above $1.5 million, Commerford said that many of these waterfront properties had been under assessed in the past. The median assessed to sales ratio for all Winnipesaukee waterfront since 2007 is 100 percent, Commerford explained, while it was only 81 percent for the upper end of the market. A similar situation happened on Collins Brook Road. In contrast, he said, properties on Skyview Circle had been over assessed, at 113 percent, compared to the general level of assessment in town.

In the case of commercial and industrial properties on the rise in valuation, Commerford called the statistic "skewed" by the arrival of Hannaford grocery store, and the Meredith Bay Colony Club senior housing complex. While commercial and industrial properties in Meredith had been declining on average, the large increase from those two properties threw results off, Commerford said.

"It's like three steps forward, and one and a half steps back," said Interim Town Manager John Edgar. "We were thinking 10 percent (down). It's not as bad as it could have been."

Commerford said that Meredith taxpayers will be notified by mail of their new assessment this week. The letter from the town would include the new value as well as the final value from 2008. Owners can compare their property values online at www.visionappraisal.com. Commerford said that the town would use the rest of August and September to handle individual requests for assessment reviews, in order to have values finalized by Oct. 1.

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