Friday, June 29, 2012

T&G: Letter to the Editor - Housing assessments don’t make sense

The Telegram & Gazette has been writing about what the city manager and the tax assessor’s office have been saying, that the single-family home valuation has dropped on average 3 percent. Does the T&G want to hear the real story?

I received my parcel information from the assessor’s office, and to my surprise (shock) the value of my single-family home went up 23 percent. When I called the assessor’s office the person I talked to told me he would look into it. He called me back a week later and told me he had a little room to work with, and then told me upfront not to expect the value to be less than last year, because that was not going to happen. They did drop the value down, but it’s still at 10 percent higher. I think they are just picking numbers out of the air and hope most people won’t say anything.

I have talked to a number of people, and they say their property values have all gone up. The house next door to mine sold for $225,000 in 2005. That house is now on the market for $135,000. And my property value has gone up?

When you file for your abatement, who is going to do the review, the assessor’s office?

I don’t trust them, and I can’t see how they can be trusted to be fair. They should prove to us where they got these numbers, not us having to prove they are wrong.



Sunday, June 24, 2012

Telegram: Tomorrow is deadline to contest Worcester real estate assessments

It’s last call for property owners wishing to contest their new real estate and personal property assessments.

Tomorrow is the deadline for property owners to file an abatement application with the assessor’s office and the way things are trending the city could see its biggest number of applications in years.
As of Friday, the city had received 1,217 real estate abatement applications, according to City Assessor William J. Ford.

While that number is consistent with previous year application numbers, Mr. Ford said, his office expects to receive “a large volume” of applications by tomorrow’s filing deadline, especially from commercial and industrial property owners.

The assessor said it is difficult to determine just how many applications have been requested or obtained because there are multiple ways in which a property owner can obtain an abatement application, including printing one off the city’s website at

Of the 1,217 real estate abatement applications to date, Mr. Ford said the breakdown of the filings is as follows: 822, residential; 371 commercial, industrial and apartments; 24, mixed-used.

In addition, the city has received 79 abatement applications for personal property values, the assessor said.

Mr. Ford said about 40 abatements have been granted so far, and all have been for residential properties.

“Of the total applications received, we have reviewed and inspected 238 properties (212 residential and 26 commercial/industrial/apartments),” Mr. Ford wrote in a report that goes before the City Council Tuesday night. “An additional 24 inspections have been scheduled.”

Last fiscal year, the city received 1,257 abatement applications, while 1,432 were received in fiscal 2010 and 1,784 in fiscal 2009.

In 2009, 844 abatements were granted, totaling $708,648, according to the assessor. Meanwhile, 483 abatements, totaling $457,117, were approved in 2010 and 277, totaling $702,389, were approved last year.

The city assessor must act on an abatement application within three months of the date of its filing, unless the applicant agrees in writing before the three-month period expires to extend it. If the assessor does not act on the abatement application within 90 days, it is deemed denied.

Mr. Ford said when an application is received by his office, it is time stamped and logged. He said the information on the application is then entered into the Vision assessment system for tracking and approval, and scanned into the city’s electronic record database.

Each application is assigned to an assessor for further review and inspection.

Because city officials anticipate there will be an increase in the number of applications, the city has hired KRT Appraisals to assist with the review and interior inspection of residential properties.

Mr. Ford said that frees up in-house staff to focus on the review and interior inspections of commercial and industrial properties.

City officials are bracing for an influx of abatement applications from commercial and industrial property owners because of dramatic increases in their assessed valuations.

Of the city’s 2,278 commercial parcels, the assessed valuations for 317 have gone up 10 percent to 20 percent; 498 went up 20 percent to 40 percent; and 540 went up 40 percent to 100 percent.

Meanwhile, the valuations of 174 commercial properties have increased by more than 100 percent.
Of the 598 industrial properties in the city, the assessed valuations of 58 of those properties have increased by 10 percent to 20 percent; 98 properties went up by 20 percent to 40 percent and 101 properties shot up 40 percent to 100 percent.

In addition the assessed valuations of 60 industrial properties have more than doubled.

In comparison, residential property assessments decreased by 3.8 percent on average compared with the previous year.

Property owners are encouraged to pay the tax as assessed to avoid any loss of rights or additional charges. If the tax due is more than $3,000 for the entire year, the full tax must be paid without incurring interest, otherwise, the right to appeal to the state Appellate Tax Board is forfeited.

The assessor is required to provide written notification of the disposition of all abatement applications. Those who wish to appeal the decision of the assessor have 90 days to file an appeal with the state Appellate Tax Board.