Council updated on plans for revaluation

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Glastonbury - posted Fri., Oct. 14, 2011
Town Assessor David Valente explains some changes in the revaluation process. Photos by Steve Smith.
Town Assessor David Valente explains some changes in the revaluation process. Photos by Steve Smith.

As the clock ticks toward five years since the last property revaluation, Town Assessor David Valente briefed the Glastonbury Town Council at its Oct. 11 meeting as to what local property homeowners can expect in the coming year. The revaluation is scheduled to begin in October 2012 and be complete by June 2013.

Vision Government Solutions will partner with the town, as it did for the revaluations in 2007 and 2002. Valente said the revaluation will appear very similar to the last two, with some slight procedural changes.

The first step is that information will be gathered primarily through data verification forms, which will be mailed to 10,500 households. Valente said one difference is that the forms will be mailed out to portions of the town residents (some have already received the forms), and all of the forms should be received by sometime in April 2012. The forms also include contact numbers and websites for more resources, as well as a self-addressed, stamped envelope (which is also a cost-cutting measure, new this year), and asks people to indicate where there are errors or updates in their information.

“In some cases, the errors may be relatively insignificant,” Valente said. “Oftentimes that information is more of a misunderstanding of what a term means. In other cases, the information may be wrong.”

Valente said residents can expect follow-up contact, in order to verify the correct information. In response to criticisms in past revaluations that there is a large expense in the collection of the data, Valente said the bulk of that expense comes from residents who either don't return the form (causing further investigation to become necessary) or have discrepancies that must be investigated. Thus, the included envelopes should cut down on part of that expense, he said.

Also included on the forms is the opportunity for a resident to request an interior and exterior inspection of their property, for those who are more comfortable with that option.

Valente said about 1,600 properties have already been selected for inspections, due to errors of many types that have already been identified, property types that have issues that require a closer look, or properties that were bought for amounts that do not align with the most recently assessed value.

Instead of unannounced “cold calls” at those properties, Valente said, “We are sending inspection letters, requesting that they schedule an appointment.” If those property owners do not respond, Valente said a properly-credentialed agent will visit the property, inspect the exterior and make an in-person request to inspect the interior.

Once the data-collection process is completed, a review process will take place, conducted by state-certified appraisers from VGS as well as town staff, and will also include data already known about the properties. That process will take place between June and August of 2012.

After that, the final models for values will be generated, re-reviewed, and notes of assessment will be mailed, which include the former assessment, current assessment, and information on the appeals process.

Councilwoman Michele Jacklin asked for an example of a specific thing an agent might look for when inspecting a home. Valente said an appraiser might be looking for how much of a property's square-footage has mechanical or utilities included in the living area – something that he has seen complaints about in the past.

“There are so many rationales as to why we may go to a property,” he said. “Some are specific, but most are very general in nature though.”

Town Manager Richard Johnson said the funding of revaluation is typically done through the capital improvement program, and that is consistent with other towns.

Council Chair Susan Karp asked if future revaluations might include an online component, like the current mail-in forms, to make it easier for property owners, and if the information can be put on the town's website for this revaluation. She also recommended that residents cooperate, in order for the most accurate information to be collected.

“Hopefully, we'll get good response from the envelopes,” she said. “In the long run, the better information we have, the better the process works for all of us.”

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