Thursday, April 5, 2012

T&G: City Hall Notebook - Just the facts facts, ma'am

Property valuation winners and losers
As Sgt. Joe Friday of Dragnet fame used to say on the popular police TV show: "Just the facts, ma'am."

Well, here are some facts about how some of Worcester's elected officials fared with their new property valuations.

According to city assessor records, six of the 10 city councilors who own homes in the city saw their property assessments go down, while four saw their valuations go up.

The following are those council members whose property valuations have gone down; it includes their new assessments followed by their previous-year assessments in parenthesis:

Mayor Joseph M. Petty, $388,200 ($394,200), District 2 Councilor Philip P. Palmieri, $313,900 ($321,600), Councilor-at-Large Joseph C. O'Brien, $164,300 ($195,500), District 3 Councilor George J. Russell, $337,400 ($344,700), Councilor-at-Large Frederick C. Rushton, $297,200 ($307,600) and District 5 Councilor William J. Eddy, $210,100 ($214,900).

Those councilors whose property assessments have increased are (previous year assessments in parenthesis): Councilor-at-Large Konstantina B. Lukes, $278,800 ($268,700), District 1 Councilor Tony Economou, $399,800 ($355,100), Councilor-at-Large Kathleen M. Toomey, $194,600 ($180,600) and District 4 Councilor Sarai Rivera, $333,800 ($310,100).

Councilor-at-Large Michael J. Germain does not own a home in the city.

Other local notables who saw a decrease in their property values include City Manager Michael V. O'Brien, whose home assessment dropped from $387,100 to $380,800.

Also, Lt. Gov. Timothy P. Murray saw his home property value drop from $194,000 to $170,000, according to city assessor records.

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. James P. McGovern, D-Worcester, saw a modest increase in the valuation of his home, from $177,000 to $178,100.

Local residential property assessments have decreased by 3.8 percent on average compared to the previous year, according to city officials

The average valuation for single-family homes dropped by 3 percent, compared to the previous year.

Meanwhile, the average assessment for two-family/duplexes dropped by 7.2 percent; three-deckers declined by 4.15 percent; and condominiums dropped by 3 percent.

Approximately 3,664 of the 38,277 residential properties saw an increase in their assessed valuations. Much of those higher assessments are attributed to new construction, renovations and increased square footage.

Those are the facts.

Assessor under microscope
One city official who has received more scrutiny and comment than anyone else at City Hall regarding his new property assessment is none other than the city assessor himself, William J. Ford.

According to the assessor's on-line data base, the new assessment for Mr. Ford's Salisbury Street home is $620,000, an increase over the previous year's assessment of $601,000.

But that conflicts with Certificate of Municipal Liens details for the property, which indicated that the previous year's assessment for the property was $617,000.

Meanwhile, the folks at Accurate Worcester Assessments on Real Estate, who have been on top of Worcester's revaluation effort, contend the previous-year's assessment for Mr. Ford's property was $687,200, not the $601,000 listed on the assessor's data base nor the $617,000 listed on the CML.

In addition, AWARE contends that the assessment for Mr. Ford's property has dropped by some $270,000 in three years. The group says his home and property was assessed at $897,100 for fiscal year 2010, $687,200 for fiscal 2011 and the new assessment is $620,000.

That has prompted Worcester resident Steve Quist to file a complaint with the state Ethics Commission. He said he does not understand how someone's property valuation, the city assessor's no less, can go down by more than $270,000 in three years.

"The valuation of his property has gone down while it has gone up for so many other people," Mr. Quist said. "It all begs the question of who's guarding the henhouse?"

Mr. Ford could not be reached for comment.


Anonymous said...

The councilors valuations are in line with the rest of us, but Ford's is clearly out of line.

Guess Bill "inadvertently" hit the override button?

The city manager wants us to believe everything is now in okay.

Anonymous said...

I just read Lorraine Foster's letter to the editor in yesterday's Worcester Magazine. I'm appalled by Ford's comments to her. Before he came to Worcester, was he in assessing or in mob enforcement?

Anonymous said...

I read it too. Having dealt with Ford the last two years I felt I was disrespected and lied to.

He rejected the abatements based on a photograph from google street view - the house has shutters, that increases the value, abatement rejected.

I have to say the info here is very helpful.