Board of Civil Authority Tax Appeal Hearings Minutes, August 20, 2015

Town of Newfane
Board of Civil Authority
Tax Appeal Hearings, Continued from August 10, 2015

Minutes, August 20, 2015

BCA members present: Gloria Cristelli, Richard Marek, Marion Dowling, Sandra Dowley, Greg Record, Mary Ann Clarkson, Todd Lawley, Bob Crego, Mike Fitzpatrick

Members absent: Carol Hatcher, Priscilla Cotton, Ellen Darrow

Listers present: Doris Knechtel       Absent: Frank Suponski and Lynn Forrest

Appellants and Representatives present: Gary Katz; William Nestor; Richard Bowman; Michael Fitzpatrick, representing Rebecca Jarvis

Richard Marek, Vice-Chair, reconvened the meeting to at 6 p.m.

The Vice-Chair administered the BCA oaths to Robert Crego and Mary Ann Clarkson for them to sit for tax appeals after which the two members signed the oath. Then he administered the oath for the appellants and their representatives.

First Appellant: Gary Katz, Parcel ID# 00B181.3, 81 Bensch Road

Greg Record, Todd Lawley, Gloria Cristelli, and Richard Marek recused themselves.

Mary Ann Clarkson chaired this appeal and Bob Crego took notes.

Doris Knechtel, representing the Listers, presented the Listers’ testimony.

The Listers provided two exhibits as follows:

Exhibit 1:        Assessment card for 00B181.3

Exhibit 2:       Comparable property spread sheet with corresponding assessment cards

Exhibit 3:        MEMO, dated August 17, 2015 from Newfane Board of Listers to BCA

The property consists of 23.51 acres with a contemporary building built around 1987, having a grade of B (Good), having a wood exterior and a standing seam roof with a total of five (5) bedrooms, one (1) kitchen and two (2) bathrooms, plus a 34’ x 12’ shop, 16’ x 4’ lean-to and an 8’ c 10’ shed which the owner says is movable.

In June 2015 the owners Gary and Carolyn Katz grieved the assessment value of their property. The listers conducted a hearing on June 17, 2015. As a result changes were made OSP (Open Screen Porch) was changed to WDK (Wood Deck), and the grad of the shop was reduced from B (Good) to C (Average), the grade of the 4’ x 26’ lean-to was reduced from B (Good) to C (Average). The value of the 8’ x 19’ shed was set to $0 as the owner said it is a movable structure.

Ms. Knechtel reviewed the content of her memo to the BCA, pointing out that the calculation she did for Mr. Katz following his grievance was an exercise, and the Listers did not make a decision as a Board of Listers. The information was not presented at the grievance.

Mr. Katz represented himself and read a letter dated July 6, 2015 and submitted as his tax appeal. He noted that the quality of the shop, built in 1960, had been lowered from B to C grade. He questioned, however, the valuation; in 2003 Mr. Katz put an addition on the shop; the Listers noted the increased size and valued the shop at $5,800, as an addition to the shop.

After the June grievance, Mr. Katz asked Ms. Knechtel to do a “what-if” exercise. Ms. Knechtel shared the information with the other two Listers, and, as related in her MEMO to the BCA the 12’ x 8’ addition should be listed as a Shop. Her calculation indicated that the original shop could be valued at $3,100 and the 2003 addition could be valued at $2,100, making the total a decrease of $600 for the current $5,800 value on the current listing to be $5,200, or a $12.00 decrease in actual taxes.

Mr. Katz contends that the addition to the shop is only a storage shed, and as such should be a separate yard item and be valued at only $600.

Marion Dowling, Sandra Dowley, and Mike Fitzpatrick volunteered as the site visit team to visit the property on August 21, 2015 at 10 a.m.

Second Appellant: William and Florence Nestor, Parcel ID# 00D038.2, 365 Timson Hill Road

Richard Bowman, lawyer for the Nestors, and William Nestor presented the Nestors’ position.

Doris Knechtel, representing Listers, presented the Listers’ testimony.

The Listers provided two exhibits as follows:

Exhibit 1:        Assessment card for 00D038.2

Exhibit 2:       Comparable property spread sheet with corresponding assessment cards

The property consists of 11.65 acres with a split entry building built around 1989, having a grade of B (Good), with a clapboard exterior and a standing seam roof with a total of three (3) bedrooms, one (1) kitchen, and two (2) bathrooms. Ms. Knechtel showed Newfane specific comparables.

The Nestors received a notice of change in their property assessment value because of the Listers changing the roof classification to standing seam roof.

In June 2015 the owners, William and Florence Nestor, grieved the assessment of their property. The Listers conducted a hearing on June 16, 2015. As a result, no changes were made to the property valuation.

It was noted that there was an error in the “After June 2015 Grievance” column on the Listers card. The 2015 Valuation of $475,600 should read $495,600.

Mr. Bowman, representing the Nestors, indicated that the Nestors purchased the property in 2008, for $446,000 when it was valued at $492,500. Mr. Nestor also made statements and asked questions. Mr. Bowman had only one copy of the Exhibit although the letter the Nestors and Mr. Bowman received specified the need for at least three (3) copies.

Exhibit 1:         Town of Newfane Tax bill, 2008 for Nestors parcel 00D038.2

Exhibit 2:         Property Transfer Tax Return form for sale of property Parks to Nestors

Exhibit 3:         Page 13 of Parks Property Letter, dated March 18, 2008 of Roofing Inspection

Mr. Bowman indicated that the purpose of Listers is to assess property at fair market value, and the best way to know is arms-length sale. Mr. Bowman stated that the Listers increase the property valuation when the properties are sold for more than tax valuation assessment is at time of the sale, but they do not decrease the value when the property is sold for less.

The Nestors are now on fixed incomes and read the documents more carefully. The latest town assessment had a changed because of correcting the roof classification to a standing seam roof. The argument was that the roof had not changed since 1981 when the building was built. (The building was not built until 1986.) This change added $3,100 to the previous year’s assessment although, Mr. Bowman claims, the roof was depreciating all the time. Mr. Bowman stated that this change was a new part of program that the Listers were now using.

Ms. Knechtel stated that this was always a part of the software program but that 35 homes throughout town had not been give the correct classification, so the Listers were correcting the information on the cards to make the valuation fair and equitable throughout Newfane. This also made the Grand List accurate. She was asked if everyone with standing seam roofs had been assessed. Ms. Knechtel said that if there were errors that the Listers can do errors and omissions.

After checking older lister cards, Ms. Knechtel said that the roof had been classified as metal. In Exhibit 3 from the Nestors, the roof designation is “standing seam metal.”

Mr. Nestor asked why the Listers would go to his house to see standing seam roof when the home is situated at the end of the driveway, not visible from the road. He guessed that someone had to have directed the Listers there.

When asked if there is an attempt to assess roof condition and apply depreciation to roofs, Ms. Knechtel responded no.

Mike Fitzpatrick, Bob Crego, Mary Ann Clarkson for Nestor. Tuesday, August 25 afternoon 4 p.m.

Appellant 3. Rebecca Jarvis, Parcel ID# 00D185.3, 12 River Road

The Vice-Chair administered the appellant oath to Mr. Fitzpatrick so that he could represent Rebecca Jarvis who was unable to attend.

Todd Lawley and Greg Record recused themselves and by this time Sandra Dowley had left though they remained in the room for this appeal.

Doris Knechtel, representing the Listers, provided the following testimony and evidence.

The property consists of 3.38 acres with a cape style building built around 2004, having a grade of C+ (Average +), having a vinyl siding exterior and an asphalt shingle roof with a total of three (3) bedrooms, one )1) kitchen and three (3) bathrooms, plus an 18’ x  36’ in-ground pool.

In June 2015, the owner, Rebecca Jarvis, grieved the assessment of her property. The Listers conducted a hearing on June 18th. Ms. Jarvis was not able to attend the hearing. She sent a copy of a June 9, 2014 appraisal by Stanley Noga, Jr. The Listers reviewed the information presented and went on an exterior site visit later that afternoon. As a result of the site visit changes were made to 00D185.3 as follows: changed 120 sq. ft. of foyer (lower level) to a cathedral ceiling. These changes resulted in an overall decrease in the assessment of $4,000, or 1.1%.

Ms. Knechtel indicated that the appraisal was out of date, that to be valid it had to be done within six (6) months of the grievance/appeal.

The Listers presented the following exhibits:

Exhibit 1:        Assessment card for 00D185.3

Exhibit 2:       Comparable property spread sheet with corresponding assessment cards

The Listers feel that the valuation after the grievance is fair and equitable. The CLA is 102.45%, effective January 1, 2015.

Michael Fitzpatrick represented Rebecca Jarvis.

Mr. Fitzpatrick stated that when Ms. Jarvis had the appraisal done by the bank, the appraiser assessed it for $295,000 while the Listers have it valued at $359,400. It was later clarified that the appraisal was not done for a bank, but by Ms. Jarvis to find out the fair market value in case she wanted to sell the property so that there could be an equitable distribution of assets between Mr. Fitzpatrick and herself.  Mr. Fitzpatrick emphasized his contention that the appraisers do this as their “business,” and therefore are more accurate.

Mary Ann Clarkson asked what Ms. Jarvis wanted, and Mr. Fitzpatrick stated around $300,000.?

Again Ms. Knechtel emphasized that the appraisal was done in June 2014 and was good for only six (6) months.

Marion Dowling pointed out that Mr. Noga’s comparables were from Athens, Wardsboro, and Windham, but none from Newfane. She stated that these towns had different tax bases and cannot be compared to Newfane’s properties. If Ms. Jarvis’s property was unique, like an inn or Valley Cares in Townshend, then out-of-town comparables would be valid.

Richard Marek, Mary Ann Clarkson, and Bob Crego agreed to visit the property on August 25, 2015 at 2 p.m.

The Board decided to address Charles Chandler’s letter, dated August 11, 2015 at the reconvened hearing on September 2, 2015 as no “other business” was warned.

Todd Lawley agreed to take Priscilla Cotton’s place in the site visit of Dimas Newfane, LLC on August 27, 2015 at 10 a.m.

Gloria Cristelli moved to recess until September 2, 2015 when each committee presents their reports. Bob Crego seconded the motion which passed unanimously.

The hearing recessed at 7:59 pm.

Respectfully submitted by,

Gloria J. Cristelli

BCA Recorderow H