ROCKINGHAM, Vt. – On Tuesday, April 18, the Rockingham Selectboard discussed the impact of House Bill 480 with the listers department.
The Rockingham Listers – Paul Noble, Tad Dedrick, and Michael Stack – decided to postpone Rockingham’s townwide appraisal until 2024-2025. Noble said they agreed the market was unstable, and with an appraisal now, he said, “the numbers would not be right.” Noble said by waiting the department would save both time and taxpayer money.
The Rockingham Listers’ Office does not support H.480, a bill that proposes removing municipalities from the property appraisal process, requiring instead a state level appraisal within the department of taxes.
Noble said, “the only way to keep track [of the reappraisal] is to live here.” He recommended appraisers continue to report to, be voted on, and be represented by, residents of the town. Representatives from other municipalities questioned the language and motive of the bill, such as who would perform appraisals, and agreed that local listers know their towns and people.
Board member Bonnie North asked what the rationale was for the change. Noble said 165 towns triggered a townwide reappraisal, which overwhelmed the appraisal business, and the state wanted to get involved. Other reasons included concern that over half of all Vermont towns have not had a reappraisal in over ten years, while others do not have a listers’ department.
Noble acknowledged, many towns have older, part-time listers. Noble’s concern is that the state has “underestimated what they’ll have to spend.”
North asked why commercial apartment buildings were not assessed at a higher tax rate than single-family homes. Noble said properties can’t be assessed upon the income they make, but what the owners can sell them for. Board member Rick Cowan asked if “the rental income a property produces is part of its value.” Noble said it was.
Chair Peter Golec asked Noble what direction the listers would like from the selectboard. Noble requested the board write a letter in support of keeping Rockingham’s reappraisal in the Town of Rockingham. He suggested residents write their senators to express how they feel and why they feel that way. The bill has already passed in the House.
Cowan agreed that most towns “do not have the expertise that Rockingham has.”
The State of Vermont has budgeted $50,000 in fiscal year 2024 for the statewide appraisal process.
Noble said the Vermont Assessors and Listers Association (VALA) also opposes the state takeover of reappraisals. He said he had spoken to Senator Wendy Harrison on the matter. She had agreed to take his letter to committee members, but recommended the town use email as best method of contact. The selectboard agreed to draft a letter.
The Rockingham Selectboard meetings are the first and third Tuesdays of the month at 6 p.m., in the Lower Theater of the Bellows Falls Opera House.