Property Valuation Change FAQ
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What will my new taxes be?

We cannot say at this time, as we won’t know the actual final tax rate until the
review process is over. Your value most likely went up, but the tax rate will GO DOWN! Thus, you may only experience a moderate increase in taxes, or even a decrease. (Keep in mind that Town spending is going up this year). Usually if you get a big increase, it is because your property has been undervalued for some time.

What will the new tax rate be?

We will not know what it will be until the review process has been concluded for everyone.

How come my value went up so much?

There can be several reasons, such as:

  • Properties haven't been valued for quite a while
  • The property was undervalued before
  • Your location has improved a lot in value
  • We had been using mistaken information about the property
Is the Town doing this to raise more money?

No.  The amount voted on by the Town Council is what will be raised via taxation, regardless of the change in property values.  Revising valuations ensures that the property tax burden is distributed according to a more accurate estimate of values.

Why did mine go up more than my neighbors?

It is quite likely that the information we had on their property was already more accurate, or that they did not maintain their property as well, or that we discovered missing information about your property.

There are mistakes in the data on my property.

This is one of the reasons we send out a notice.  Thousands and thousands of pieces of information had to be entered into our system anew, so we are bound to have some things off.  Please let us know of any data corrections.  Some changes may result in value increases as well as decreases.

Shouldn't everyone's value go up the same?

No, for a variety of reasons.  Some folks' properties may have been improved more than others.  Sometimes the locational information we had recorded was wrong.  The desirability of some neighborhoods goes up more than others.  Not all properties are identical.

It cost Joe X so many dollars to build that thing: shouldn't that be his assessment?

No.  The relevant question i,s "what can the place be re-sold for?"  People often put more money (or less!) into something than they can get out on resale.

Mary Y can't afford it.

This is probably the most unpleasant part of tax law: it makes no distinction about one's ability to pay.  The state constitution and statutes say that the test whether the valuation approximates market value, not whether one can pay for the taxes.  Exceptional cases (the law calls it "inability to contribute to the public charges") may be heard by the Town Council through the Poverty Abatement process.  This is meant to be on a year-by-year basis for occasional hardship.  Please contact Town Manager Matthew Sturgis if this is a necessity.  The Assessor is not involved in this procedure.

Sam Z can afford it, so he should pay more/Businesses should pay.

The answer here is similar.  Legally, the market value of the property is what matters, not how much someone can pay.  Every property, including businesses, has been updated.

Will you post a list of all properties?

Yes -- after we have heard back from folks on our notification letter and make any necessary data adjustments.

What are the most important influences on land value?

The key elements seem to be whether one can build on a property and its location.  Other elements after that do contribute, but are relatively secondary.

Why are taxes so high?

This question is not under the authority of the assessor; it is the result of the spending by the school and town government.  Here are a few elements to keep in mind:

  • The cost of doing anything is going up these days.
  • Spending priorities are set in the spring and voters have an opportunity to voice their concerns.  The Town Council and Town Manager work to develop a list of considered expenditures.  Residents can attend meetings and give input.  Then the list is presented at a Town Council meeting; townspeople can comment and then vote on each article.
Shouldn't my valuation equal my purchase price?

No.  It should only be an approximation of what it might sell for now.  Not everyone would pay the same price.

What is the valuation formula?

It is too complicated to list in a FAQ!  We utilize a proprietary relational database program that is in common use for taxation purposes.  Just the sketching manual for the program is 81 pages long!  Many, many data points are entered, including location, build-ability, sizes, quality of construction, depreciation, amenities, outbuildings, etc.  Then elements are priced out using various mathematical equations resulting in a total that should be a rough approximation of market value.  The real question is whether the final total is in the ballpark of market value.