I always wanted to know how property taxes are assessed, especially since my property taxes doubled just at a time when I sued one of the members of the Board of Assessors, Earl Johnson, and criticized another, Brad Nobel, in the piece, These are difficult times, need a tax-break?
On January 11, 2011, I submitted a request to the Board of Assessors pursuant to the Public Information Act, click here, to read the letter.
The Board of Assessors convened the same evening and Joanne Higgins, assessor’s clerk, who was attending the meeting called me to inform me that the requested documents were ready.
Member Earl Johnson was absent; he was hospitalized December 6, 2010, with a fractured right hip and is currently in rehab.
Joanne Higgins handed me the following documents in response to my Public Information Request:
Local real estate brokers are also valuable sources for such information. Whenever possible, all sold properties should be inspected. This will enable the assessors to verify existing data, monitor property renovations and to identify more readily market trends within the community.Our Board of Assessors clearly is failing to do this; inequities are the result. A large percentage of sold homes are advertised as homes with a “finished basement.”
As mentioned above, the Board of Assessors is using outdated Guidelines (at least that’s what they handed me).
The changes incorporated in the new version are described as “significant” on the front page. The changes are in regards to an “abstraction method” to be used in times where there are not sufficient land sales to produce meaningful data.
On page 11 of the document listed under par. 3,“FIELD LISTING INSTRUCTIONS,” you will find a table with the title, “DWELLING BASE SPECIFICATIONS.”
This table lists characteristics of dwellings according to their grade of construction. The grade “AA” is the best grade and “A” the next best, “B” fallows and so forth, “C”, “D”, “E” being the least.
I found a pdf document showing pictures of houses for each grade of construction, click here, and scroll to pages 10 to 30.
On the Property Record Cards in the Assessor’s Office is a system with numbers and not with letters to classify the grade of construction. Higher numbers indicate better grade of construction. The Property Record Cards are not actual cards any longer, they are records of a file in a computer. You can request a copy off your own property Record Card at the Assessor’s office for free, any cards of other properties are $1.00 a piece.
If you care to see an example, here is the Property Record Card of Bradford Nobel. I choose his card just to prove the point that he really does not pay for his finished basement, remember? On the second page, at the bottom on the left, you see the number “0” for Living Area in the basement!
January 19, 2011, Peter Frei