Milan revaluation may miss its mark

Assessors say town-wide updating project could run beyond state's deadline

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The town-wide revaluation project in Milan may not be on track for completion this year, according to the town assessors.

Assessor board chairman Scott Hobson told the town board at its Dec. 17 meeting that it was possible the revaluation’s deadline would be missed because the work was not yet completed.

So far, Hobson told the board, approximately one-fourth of the properties photographed don’t match up with their records, which means further work on those properties has to be done.

At the board’s Jan. 20 meeting, Hobson said that there were between 300 and 500 properties still to be processed. He said he is not sure there will be enough time left to finish the job by the state’s deadline.

Hobson told the Observer that a tentative roll of the town’s equity is due to the state by May 1, but that the state usually locks assessors out of their input database much earlier than that, usually in mid-March.

If the project is not filed with the state on time, Milan stands to lose about $7,000 in state aid. The state rewards municipalities that do revaluations at least once every four years, up to $5 per parcel. Milan does its revaluation every three years.

Hobson told the Observer, if work remained after the deadline, the town could file the revaluation next year, or file it late and not receive state aid.

The revaluation project started after the 2011 tax year closed and covers between 1,850-1,900 parcels of property in the town, according to assessor Jim Jeffreys.

“Our goal … is to get to every single parcel, especially the improved ones,” Jeffreys told the Observer.

The town board appeared frustrated in December, after they were told the project may not finish on time.

“They got elected to do a job. Do the damn job,” said board member Jack Campisi.

Hobson said he and the town’s two other assessors, Jeffreys and Elizabeth Burns, were just trying to do a thorough job.

“Scott’s frustration, if there is any, is that he’s trying to get all the vacants done, too,” Jeffreys said, noting there are many vacant lots in the town.

“Sometimes it’s in the middle of nowhere,” he added. “You know how hard it is to find that?”

Hobson told the Observer, “We want to make sure that we’re taking a uniform approach to everybody and we’re applying the same procedures uniformly and coming up with a uniform percentage of value. We’re not required to maintain 100 percent [of market value], but we chose to do so because we find that it’s the best way.”

He added, “We are comparing apples with apples. I’m not comparing a colonial with a ranch. I don’t want any class of homeowner or property owner to be treated differently than their neighbor.”

Both Red Hook and Milan are currently in the process of a revaluation, which involves assessors visiting all properties, taking photos and checking that the actual value of a parcel matches up with its recorded value.

Hobson, who is also the appointed assessor for the Town of Red Hook, said a parcel’s value may increase, decrease, or stay the same after revaluation.

In general, he noted, one-third of all parcels increase, one-third decrease, and one-third don’t change at all.

The changes can impact the property taxes for those parcels that are found to be undervalued or overvalued.

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