Moultonboro board accepts assessment numbers
September 22, 2010
MOULTONBORO — The Board of Selectmen accepted the controversial 2010 assessments after a narrow vote.
The final vote was taken on Thursday following nearly two hours of comment and protest from taxpayers against Vision Appraisal's assessment numbers for this year.
Vision conducted this year's statistical analysis of properties in town. While Vision representatives said the average waterfront property went up around 6 percent, several taxpayers said their properties went up 20 to 30 percent with some going up significantly higher.
Residents have demanded to see the matrix Vision used to produce the numbers, especially with the down housing market. Representatives from Vision have given some preliminary numbers, saying the values were examined again and revised. The final numbers will be available after the selectmen approved the assessments.
On Thursday, one final meeting took place at the Moultonboro Academy Auditorium before the vote was taken.
Dave Arnold, vice president of Appraisal Operations for Vision, gave a presentation explaining the values and data collection. Arnold explained the formulas for the land and building valuation models and how size, location, and neighborhood values calculate to create overall value.
There were 259 informal hearings and after meting with the Town Assessor models were tested against sales. Arnold also said data was based on two years worth of sales.
Arnold said all of the figures for median, coefficient of dispersal, and price related differential all fell within the recommended guidelines set by thee Department of Revenue Administration.
Arnold said he could not give information on specific parcels, as there were over 7,000 of them in the town. This included why two neighboring properties had different values. He also addressed the earlier complaint that there were too many neighborhoods being factored, saying the neighborhoods were set by the previous assessor and changing those were not part of the contract.
Several residents expressed dissatisfaction with the presentation, saying they asked for simple answers and were given more jargon.
"I want to see an actual formula we can understand," said Maggie Alexander. "There is no rational way I can understand that unless you can show me a real form with real numbers. I am extremely dissatisfied as a customer. I expect far better."
Arnold said each property has its own calculation. Alexander asked why she did not receive that number when her assessment went up 30 percent. Arnold said the number will be available once the process is finalized and the neighborhood adjustment will be put into the manual when values are released.
Resident Hollis Caswell said he could not understand how Vision's figure showed a 6 percent increase when people's assessments were going up 20 to 30 percent.
Paul McKenney, project manager for Vision, said he did not believe any property was going up more than 10 percent.
Fred Cramer disagreed with how Vision reached its numbers given the state of the market.
"This is serious money. I want to see how it's done," said Fred Cramer.
Richard Barrett said his property value went up 15 percent.
"I would like to see the 200 sales that were included in the assessment update," Barrett said. "We've been asking (for the charts) for two months. We've been asking every meeting. Do we see them? No."
Arnold said those figures will be public record and accessible.
"I listened to your formula and the technical jargon that you have," said Carter Barger. "I can't understand boosting anyone's assessment value in the 20 to 30 percent range. Our Board of Selectmen seems to be just as frustrated with you folks as the rest of the town. I would appeal to the Board of Selectmen to reject what you people have and in the absence of anything else maintain the property assessments you had last year. No one seems to be happy with what you folks have done."
Arnold said Moultonboro properties had been over assessed by 9 percent and 76 percent of sales on the waterfront sold above their assessed value. Arnold said there were around 80 sales included in the value.
Several residents said Vision should be fired as the town's appraisal company and several residents said the board should go back to the numbers from last year. Board Chair Joel Mudgett said while that would work to the advantage of people on the waterfront, it would not be fair to those with inland property.
Selectman Karel Crawford said all the data will eventually go to DRA and be reviewed and DRA would not likely approve of going back to the 2009 assessments.
"I understand where you're coming from," Crawford said. "I realize that that really isn't possible as far as DRA goes."
Crawford said the town could face great consequences for that, including a potential lawsuit.
Selectman Ed Charest said he was just as confused by the current figures.
"I'd like to see a system where it was defined," Charest said. "I think right now the system is really unfavorable. I'm just uncomfortable with it."
Selectman James Gray also said he had doubts about the figures and could not go along with them.
"It's not going to be an easy decision, but I don't think we have a lot of choice," Mudgett said.
Mudgett said this topic could continue to go on if a decision is not made.
The assessments were accepted in a vote of three to two, with Charest and Gray voting against.