$100,000 Town Revaluation Proposed for 2014 Budget

January 3, 2014
by Barbara O’Brien

One of the warrant articles to be put on Windham’s 2014 town ballot proposes that $100,000 be designated for the revaluation of all property in the town.

State statute requires that a town-wide revaluation be conducted every five years.  The last time Windham went through the process was in 2010.  Although the money is proposed for appropriation in 2014, the revaluation would not be concluded until 2015; allowing Windham to stay within the five-year mandated timeframe.

Windham’s Town Assessor, Rex Norman, said if the town doesn’t comply with the timeframe, the State of New Hampshire could hire a firm to do the job, anyway; a situation which would most likely wind up costing local taxpayers more money than if the revaluation is handled locally.  “We need to prepare for what’s coming,” Norman said, while presenting the proposed warrant article to selectmen.

According to Norman, the goal of the revaluation is “to fairly and accurately assess all property.”  Values assessed for tax purposes need to be statistically in line with market value, he explained.  “Currently, Windham is outside acceptable DRA (Department of Revenue Administration) guidelines.”  Norman told selectmen.  “This happens, typically, as a town gets farther away from the last revaluation.”

The money proposed in the warrant article will pay for a contracted assessing service.  “With such a small department [in Windham] it’s tough to keep up with the workload,” Norman said, describing the assessing department as “Me, Myself and I.”  “It’s basically a one person operation, here in Windham,” Norman stated.  “I feel like the last of the dinosaurs, trying to do it myself,” he added.  “Rex puts in a superhuman effort on the job,” Town Administrator David Sullivan commented.

During the revaluation process, each property in town is inspected, both the exterior and interior.  The data that is collected on each property is then reviewed and used to determine the revaluation of that property.  “If the data isn’t accurate, the assessment won’t be either,” Norman said.

Referring to the proposed expenditure of $100,000 for the revaluation, Sullivan said, “This is money well-spent every five years.”  “It’s a lot less costly than hiring another employee for the assessing department,” he added.

“We’re required to do it.  We have to get it done,” Selectmen’s Chairman Phil LoChiatto said.  “If we don’t, it would be turned over to the [New Hampshire] Bureau of Land and Tax Appeals and ultimately cost more money,” he said.

Selectmen voted 5 to 0 to place the warrant article for the town-wide revaluation on next March’s town ballot.  Voting in favor were Chairman Phil LoChiatto, Vice-Chairman Kathleen DiFruscia and Selectmen Roger Hohenberger, Ross McLeod and Al Letizio, Jr.