I thought for sure I would be getting phone calls and emails with the announcement the revaluation has been completed and property owners would start getting mailed notices as soon as …
I thought for sure I would be getting phone calls and emails with the announcement the revaluation has been completed and property owners would start getting mailed notices as soon as last Thursday.
I could hear the lamentations: “This is going to double may taxes. How does the city expect me to pay this? Or, if they think it’s worth that much, they can buy it. Then there was the third line of reasoning: You ought to see this place. It can’t be worth that kind of money.
I waited for my notice and when it didn’t show up I went to the city website and the Vision Government Solutions to satisfy my curiosity. There it was in stark digits. According to the revaluation my property had appreciated a whopping $145,000 for a 46 percent increase. Wow, I haven’t done anything to my property in the last four years to enhance its value. In fact, Carol keeps suggesting we change some of the carpeting that has been here since we bought the place in 1975. My argument is that it is still good. Besides, some of those Persian rugs that sell for hundreds of thousands in big auction houses are centuries old. Couldn’t relatively new carpeting last at least 60 years or more?
I’m digressing. The point is that the revaluation so feared by the administration as shaking the community hasn’t happened…yet.
In one way I shouldn’t surprised.
In the past four years – the last revaluation was as of 2018 and the most current one is as of Dec. 31, 2022 – we surely have written at least a dozen stories about the surge in home sales since the pandemic shutdown of March 2021. We ran pictures of lines of people waiting to get into open houses and stories of anxious buyers foregoing inspections and bidding wars to get a property. Every month the median price of single family homes was higher than for the identical month a year earlier. The inventory of houses kept dropping, meaning the demand couldn’t be met which did just what we were all taught in high school, pushed prices even higher.
Sure, the value of homes soared and it is comforting to think that without doing much of anything such a major investment appreciated so significantly. Without a question the greater value enhanced the ability to borrow, however, with ballooning interest rates and inflationary costs monthly payments are that much more to difficult to meet. Cashing in is an option, but then finding comparable housing at something less is a long shot. Renting is an option assuming you can find a space and affordable rent.
So, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by the absence of community pushback. Homeowners expected their values to jump. They also understand, as the city made clear in the legal advertisement appearing in last Thursday’s Beacon and on the website that the mayor’s proposed budget would result in a $14.76 per $1,000 of valuation residential tax rate, down from $18.73 in the current fiscal year. And, I’d venture many have applied the proposed tax rate to the new valuation to come up with a projected tax bill. Most, I’d also venture, have found the numbers to be more than what they are currently paying.
Tax Assessor Neal Dupuis makes a good point when he asks property owners to ask themselves whether they would sell their property for the assigned valuation. If they believe the assessment is unrealistic, then they need to step forward with a reasonable argument that could include comparable sales in the neighborhood and features of the property that devalue it. Personally, I think that’s going to be difficult with the current demand for housing. Furthermore, I haven’t found on the website an explanation of how property owners are to challenge assigned valuations.
As Dupuis explained in a story appearing in last week’s Beacon, the system of scheduling a review with an assessor is being replaced with a form that can either be completed online or mailed in. That starts the review process that can progress to in-person meetings in the community room of the Saw Tooth Annex Building in Apponaug. I guess it can work, yet I think many taxpayers, especially the elderly who may not be familiar or comfortable with internet technology will feel marginalized. For many, every dollar is critical and a several thousand dollar adjustment in valuation could mean a $100 reduction in taxes.
Strangely, given the turnout witnessed at budget hearings year after year, many fail to make the correlation between taxes and what the city spends. With the injection of federal funds aimed at recovering from the pandemic and tax rates having gone unchanged the past four years, it seems like smooth sailing.
That’s not the case this year. Federal funding is coming to an end. The city needs to reach contract agreements with police, municipal workers and the teachers and it is facing higher costs due to inflationary pressures.
I did the math, which I’m guessing a lot of homeowners will also be doing. While the tax rate promises to go down, if the current budget is approved my taxes will increase by $1,508.
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