Board of Civil Authority Meeting Minutes: August 8, 2017

Present: Priscilla Cotton, Marion Dowling, Richard Marek, Gary Delius, Ellen Darrow, Evelyn Sirois, Apple Gifford, Carol Hesselbach.  Ellen Darrow left before the hearing on the McMonagle appeal. John Lohse, John Ogorzalek and Meribelle Coles, representing themselves and Doris Knectle, Frank Suponski and Lynn Forrest, representing the listers with their expert witness Matthew Kajeski from the appraisal company, New England Municipal Consultants.

Priscilla Cotton, chair, called the meeting to order at 6:02 p.m.  She then administered the oath to the Appellants, Listers, and witnesses.

Each member present introduced him/herself.  Richard Marek explained that the Board of Civil Authority was made up of the Selectboard the Justices of the Peace and the Town Clerk.

John Lohse Appeal.  204 Wiswall Hill Road

Matt Kajeski began to describe the property owned by John Lohse and the conditions considered by the appraisal.  He was interrupted by Richard Marek who said he thought that all the board needed to consider was the garage because that was what was mentioned in the appeal letter as being contested.  After general discussion it was determined that the board was to consider the property as a whole, not just the garage.  Request from Priscilla for Lister information on the property. Packets shared.

Matt Kajeski began again and described the parcel, house and garage. Quality build and upkeep but rustic layout.  Garage built 2009, partially finished area,  Discussed comparables.  Noted that property listed on market for $375,000.

Priscilla then invited John Lohse to describe his position.  2 mistakes on lister card. Listed as gray but is dark brown.  Card does not show basement. Garage built in 2009, Listers measured, gave it value of C.  Listers valued garage at $21,000. Now been reappraised as quality of C which he does not understand because nothing has been added or improved. Considering property across road just sold for $30,000

During appeal process he asked how garage was assessed in 2009.  Doris said that the Listers thought it was unfair to give it a higher value than they did.  How can value of garage go up over 100% when value of house went down.  How could quality change from C to B when nothing changed or improved. Another issue is value of decks and porches.  Requests value be reduced to a reasonable

Matt Kajeski then presented the Listers’ rebuttal.  He said that since the matter was being heard de novo, the listing history was not relevant.  That the model used to appraise the properties in Town was changed across the board because they wanted the data to be correct and fair for everyone. Want to differentiate someone with a garage that is plain, uninsulated from this one which is insulated, more finished. Want data to be correct,   The decks, porches, sub area listing on card is undepreciated value, so there is a depreciation that is then applied to those values.

Priscilla asked was he saying that the prior appraisal was not relevant to the current appraisal.  He said the sales market has changed and therefore the models changed.

Gary Delius asked John if other than the color being different ant the basement not on the lister card, were there any other errors on the card?  The response was no.

Matt explained that the basement of the house was just under a very small portion of the house and accessed through a trap door in the kitchen and just contained the furnace.  He did not include it in the description or value because it was so small, consider it a crawl space.  Would probably not be fair to charge Appellants for the basement.

Gary Delius asked John what he thought the assessment to be.  He said he didn’t really know.  What bothered him was how much the value of the garage went up.  I feel if there was a modest increase in the value of the garage he would be okay.

Richard asked about depreciation and how it worked in this case.  Wasn’t necessarily talking about the garage.  Was talking about porches.  Got undepreciated value by amount times sq foot.  Richard talked about overall value versus individual items on the card.  If the BOA was to decide the garage was over valued, where would we add the amount removed from the garage to get the same total.

Matt explained that we want land to be uniform, so would look to building.

Richard talked about sale price and listing price are not dispositive.  Of interest, but not dispositive.

Matt said very comfortable with appraisal being $301,600 and asking price $375,000, since Owner typically would expect to get 20% less.

John asked questions about the depreciation on the items on the card and how did the depreciation affect the garage.  Matt explained that only the values in the sub areas were listed as undepreciated, the other values were not shown that way.

Marion Dowling spoke about her experience as a former real estate broker and his current asking price.  She thought that lowering the value on the lister card could be a problem when a buyer goes for a mortgage.  The buyer would not be able to get mortgage.

John replied that would be his problem.. Knows many houses do not sell.  May not get offered close to asking price.  House may never sell, and if it doesn’t sell for a price he finds acceptable, he does not want his taxes to be over $7,000.

Carol asked if there was any evidence that John wanted us to consider.  He responded, no just his testimony.

Priscilla asked for volunteers to go on the site visit and Richard Marek, Gary Delius and Ellen Darrow volunteered.

Richard wanted to lay out a couple of things.  Burden of proof is on the Appellant.  We go out in team of 3, we look at property, testimony and discussion is over tonight.  One or more of the listers may come on the inspection.  The committee does not take any testimony during the inspection.  They come back and write a report, present it to the BOA, and those who were at the meeting can then vote on the appraisal.  If unsatisfied, can go to State or Superior Court.  Final stop would be the Vermont Supreme Court.

After discussion with John Lohse, they decided to meet at the site on August 17th at 9 a.m.

John Lohse was thanked for coming in.

A short break was taken.

The next scheduled hearing was for Joseph McMonagle and Judith Wren but they were not in attendance.  It was decided to switch the order and hear the June-Ann Colberg, Trustee appeal since John Ogorzalek and Merribelle Coles, who are the new owners and had the prior owner’s permission to take the appeal, were in attendance.

June-Ann Colberg, Trustee Appeal.  35 Bruce Brook Road

Matthew  Kajeski presented the Listers’ information about the property.  It is assessed at $258,400 and was recently sold for $235,000.  The house was built about 2000.  Graded as relatively average across the board. There was no interior inspection of the premises because the Owner as of April 1 had moved to Arizona and did not make any provision for the appraisers to view the interior.  There could have been an inspection of the interior by the Listers at the time of the grievance but there was not. Considered sales April 2014-May, 2017. We believe it was assessed fairly.  Believe there was a bit of a deal here, that the seller had some urgency for the sale of the property.

John Ogorzalek was invited to present his evidence.  He had a question for Matt.  What was sale price in 2007, sold for $280,000.  Presented copy of the contract for sale which shows they contracted for the purchase during the assessment period in February.  Why wouldn’t assessment be sale price.  Arm’s length transaction.  Asking that it goes done to what they paid for it.  A fair assessment is what people are willing to put up, not fairy land or Disneyland. There were no offers until it was lowered 3 times and they offered $235,000.

No rebuttal.

Richard:  How long was property up for sale?  John:  More than several months.

Discussion as to why the Listers did not go look at the interior at the time of the grievance.

Priscilla asked had the owners look at the Lister Card.  He said he didn’t have it.  Doris Knectel said he was given one at the grievance but John said he did not have it.  Priscilla talked about the grading on the card.  Matt explained that it was graded C, relatively average, based on the assumption that the interior condition would match the exterior condition.  Most of the interior data either recycled or based on assumptions.

John asked when was prior reassessment.  Told him 2007.  At the top of the market.  He pointed out that the assessment then was lower.

Priscilla asked for volunteers for the inspection.  Richard Marek, Apple Gifford, Evelyn Sirois volunteered.  Decided for the inspection to be 9 AM on August 10.

John asked does the purchase contract mean anything.  Richard Marek said it is not dispositive but is of interest.  May well be correct.  Welcomed them to Newfane.

Ellen Darrow left the hearings.

Joseph McMonagle and Judith Wren Appeal.   704 Dover Road

The appellants were not present.

Priscilla explained what we had from the Owner,  Discussion regarding procedure when the Owner is not at the hearing.

Matt made his presentation for the listers.  The property is valued at $198,000.  Built in about 2003.  It has a B- rating.  A portion of the second floor is a loft.  It is on the water and was purchased in 2012 for $222,000.  Good quality finishes.  He reviewed the comparables that the Listers provided.  Noted that the Listers provided lists of equity listings, not sales but grand list values for similar properties.

In response to a question Matt indicated that the value of the land was adjusted for topography but not given any additional value for river frontage.

The Board took a short time to read the Owner’s letter regarding the appeal.

Priscilla asked Matt about the condition of the house being a plus grade, above average condition.  How did that figure with the bathrooms being graded average..  He explained that the plus grade indicates the construction of the home, but the interior finishes might be graded differently.

Richard Marek talked about the fact that we have two letters on this property and need to consider both.  Doris Knechtel indicated that the first was the letter sent for the grievance.  Note was taken that the first list of comparables was property for sale, not sold, so figures are an asking price not a true value.

Frank Suponski asked Matt how many towns the assessors were appraising and Matt discussed the ongoing appraisals they have.

Priscilla asked for volunteers for the site visit.  Priscilla Cotton, Carol Hesselbach and Evelyn Sirois will be doing the visit.  Carol agreed to try to contact the owners to set up the visit.

Discussion about the request by Joel Schneider’s attorney to postpone the hearing.  Richard Marek wanted to tell them to just submit the information on paper but a review of the rules seems to contemplate the rescheduling of the hearing so it was decided to reschedule the hearing to the 29th.  General discussion about who needs to be at the hearing, how many to hear the appeal.

Richard Marek moved that the meeting of the BCA be adjourned to August 22, 2017 at 6 PM.  Unanimous agreement.

Respectfully submitted by,

Carol Hesselbach

Recording Clerk of the BCA