Budget Issues: Saving For A Town-Wide Reappraisal

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What should the Town of Norwich do with State grant money broadly designated for Grand List ‘upkeep’? Spend it on the Listers annual budget? The Listers have asked that the money be held in reserve for a future town-wide reappraisal. The Selectboard is undecided. 

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Last year, Norwich received $15,371 from the State pursuant to two statutes. The annual payments of $8.50 and $1.00 per Grand List parcel are made to each municipality from the State Education Fund.†

The Listers want that the money held in reserve for a future town-wide reappraisal. At present, the Town has $6,400 set aside and plans to add another $11,500 in this proposed budget. The Listers prefer a set aside of $11,500 plus the State grants, for a total of around $26,000 .

In a memorandum to the Selectboard, the Listers estimate “a reappraisal would cost a minimum of $152,575 and a maximum of $179,200.”  At $11,500 per year, a fully funded reappraisal is over 10 years away. 

The last town-wide reappraisal was in 2014. Last budget cycle, the Selectboard declined the Listers request to schedule a  town-wide reappraisal for 2019. That appears to be a good call based on the CLA number released last month by the State. 

The Common Level of Appraisal or CLA  measures how well the overall Grand List is standing up to changes in property values. For 2018, the State determined that overall the Norwich Grand List was at 98% of fair market value, which is excellent

However, at the December 19 Selectboard meeting,  then Lister Dennis Kaufman projected a drop in the CLA in 2019 to as low as 90%, based on his and the Contract Assessor’s tracking of recent sales. A 90% CLA is very bad for Norwich property owners who pay the State school tax as a property tax, even though the State only requires a town-wide reappraisal when a municipality’s CLA is below 80%.**

Mr.  Kaufman also indicated that lower valued properties we’re over valued, indicating that those property owners were paying more than their share of property taxes. 

† Every year, the State sends every municipality the sum of $8.50 per per Grand List parcel. By statute, that money is “to be used only” for costs related to “reappraisal of its grand list properties “ and “for maintenance of the grand list.” 32 V.S.A. § 4041a(a). In addition, the State pays  $1.00 per Grand List parcel per year to each municipality for its work in helping the State collect data for the annual Equalization Study. 32 V.S.A. § 5405(f).  

**A reappraisal is also required if the coefficient of dispersion (COD) is over 20%. The COD is a measure of how fairly distributed the property tax is within a town. For 2018, the Department of Taxes calculated the Norwich COD at  8.63%. 

VT ACT 60 is the line item for this revenue received from the State. Source: Selectboard packet

POSTED: 01.07.2019 


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