Board of Assessors Regular Meeting: May 24, 2023: Concerns Regarding Property Tax Error

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In this article, we will discuss the highlights of the Board of Assessors regular meeting held on May 24, 2023. The meeting was recorded for cable broadcast and Internet posting. We will focus on the specific concern raised by Mr. Hershey regarding an error in his property tax assessment. This article aims to provide a detailed understanding of the issue and the steps that are being taken to resolve it.

Key Points:
1. Meeting Commencement: The meeting was called to order by the chairman at 9:38 a.m. It was emphasized that the meeting was being recorded and would be made available on the town’s website.

  1. Motion to Reorder Agenda: At the start of the meeting, the chairman made a motion to take out of order item 5H. This motion was seconded and approved by the members present.

  2. Recusal: One of the board members, who is related to Mr. Hershey, recused themselves from the discussion and any related vote.

  3. Introduction of Board Members: Mr. Hershey requested a list of members present at the meeting. The attending members of the board were Stephanie Schechter, Bill Moore, Nancy Goulat, and Lisa Tatro. Additionally, Bill Erik and Stephanie were identified as the elected and appointed assessors, respectively.

  4. Mr. Hershey’s Concerns: Mr. Hershey, a resident of North Dighton, expressed his concerns about an error in his property tax assessment. He explained that an abatement had been filed for a square footage error, which was refunded in January 2022. However, it recently came to his attention that the correction had not been properly recorded, and the overpayment was still reflected in his tax bill.

  5. Timeframe of the Error: The error occurred in fiscal year 2022-2023, and Mr. Hershey had been overpaying his taxes since January 2022. He expressed confusion about why the error had not been corrected and when it would be rectified.

  6. Abatement Process: The board clarified that Mr. Hershey had filed for an abatement in the past, which was granted. However, due to administrative procedures, the correction could only be made in January of the following year. This timing resulted in Mr. Hershey continuing to pay the incorrect amount until the next abatement process.

  7. Correction and Refund: The board assured Mr. Hershey that the error would be corrected going forward, and he would receive a refund in January 2024 for the overpaid amount. They explained that the upcoming tax bills would still reflect the incorrect amount until the adjustment was made.

  8. Property Assessments and Taxes: The board further clarified that property assessments and tax bills are based on the fiscal year, not the calendar year. The fiscal year 2022-2023 was the period when the error occurred, and the fiscal year 2023-2024 would account for the correction.

  9. Duration of Overpayment: It was determined that Mr. Hershey had been overpaying his taxes for approximately 18 months, starting from July 2022 until January 2024. The board acknowledged the burden this placed on him and empathized with the situation.

  10. Department of Revenue’s Guidelines: The board explained that the process and deadlines for abatements and adjustments are determined by the Department of Revenue, and the town must adhere to these regulations. They expressed frustration with the limitations imposed by these guidelines.

  11. Petitioning the Department of Revenue: Mr. Hershey inquired about the possibility of petitioning the Department of Revenue to rectify the error. The board acknowledged that there might be provisions for extraordinary actions such as omitted and revised assessments but stated that further research was required to determine if this case qualified for such action.

  12. Clarification of Finished Areas: The board addressed a question regarding finished areas in a property. They explained that if an area is considered finished during the initial assessment, it should carry forward automatically. However, in Mr. Hershey’s case, the error occurred, and the finished area was not updated in the assessment.

  13. Resolving the Error: The board acknowledged the error in the assessment and expressed their commitment to correct it in the following January. They emphasized that the current regulations prevented them from making immediate adjustments to property values outside of the designated abatement period.

The Board of Assessors’ regular meeting on May 24, 2023 highlighted the concerns raised by Mr. Hershey regarding an error in his property tax assessment. The board assured Mr. Hershey that the error would be rectified in the upcoming abatement process, with a refund to be issued in January 2024. They clarified the limitations imposed by the Department of Revenue’s guidelines and expressed their commitment to following the necessary procedures. Despite the frustration caused to Mr. Hershey, the board emphasized that they were all bound by these regulations. This meeting sheds light on the complexities of property tax assessments and the challenges faced by both residents and assessors in resolving errors and discrepancies.

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