In this article, we will provide a comprehensive overview of the reappraisal process in South Burlington, Vermont. We will address frequently asked questions about property assessments and provide a step-by-step guide for homeowners who may have concerns or questions about their assessed values. This article aims to help residents understand the city’s mass appraisal system and ensure they are well-informed about the assessment process.
What is a Citywide Reappraisal?
A citywide reappraisal is a mass appraisal conducted by the city of South Burlington to determine the average cost per square foot for properties that are similar. Unlike a fee appraisal, which focuses on individual properties, a mass appraisal provides an estimate of what a property could sell for on the market. While the appraisal value may differ from the value determined by a bank during a refinancing process, it is still considered a reasonable estimate within the ballpark range.
Why Did the City Conduct a Reappraisal?
The city of South Burlington conducted the reappraisal as part of the state’s effort to maintain fairness in property assessments. The state aims to achieve a Common Level of Assessment (CLA) of 100 percent, ensuring that property assessments are in line with their true market values. When a city or town’s CLA drops below 80 percent, a reappraisal is triggered to bring assessments back to a fair level. South Burlington fell within this range, prompting the reappraisal.
Effective Date of the New Appraised Values
The new appraised values will be effective for the 2021-2022 tax year and will be used to calculate homeowners’ tax bills. It is important for residents to understand that they should not wait until they receive their tax bills to review their assessed values. Any concerns or grievances regarding the assessed value should be addressed upon receipt of the notice in mid to late April.
Assessments and Property Upgrades
During the mass appraisal process, the company hired by the city measures the square footage of every property using external measurements. When it comes to property upgrades, such as kitchen countertops or cabinets, their impact on assessed values depends on their functionality rather than the materials used. For example, a laminate countertop can hold dishes just as well as a granite countertop, as long as it serves its intended purpose. While upgrades may result in slight differences in value for single-family homes, they are unlikely to cause significant changes.
Understanding Square Footage
The assessed value is based on both the above-grade and below-grade square footage of a property. Above-grade square footage encompasses everything above the basement or ground level, while below-grade square footage refers to the basement. An unfinished basement holds some value, while a finished basement adds more value to the property. The property record card will indicate whether the basement is finished or unfinished, along with the corresponding square footage and value.
Appraisals from Banks vs. Mass Appraisals
It is important to note the difference between a bank appraisal and a mass appraisal conducted by the city. A bank appraisal is a fee appraisal focusing solely on the individual property being refinanced. The appraiser determines the value based on their assessment of the property. In contrast, a mass appraisal looks at similar properties as a whole and determines average costs per square foot, assuming this value is representative of what the property could potentially sell for. These different approaches can result in varying appraised values but should still fall within a reasonable range.
Impact on Taxes Due to Increased Property Values
If a property’s value increases due to the reappraisal, it does not necessarily mean that the taxes will increase by the same percentage. Property values across the city, including both residential and commercial properties, are taken into account when determining the tax rates. While some properties may experience a decrease in value, the overall trend is an increase. The city of South Burlington has approved approximately $17 million to be raised through property taxes for the upcoming year. The tax rate is calculated based on the total grand list of property values, ensuring that the city can fulfill the approved budget.
Grieving the Assessed Value
If a homeowner disagrees with their assessed value, there is a grievance process in place to address their concerns. The first step is to contact the city within 14 days of receiving the notice to set up a grievance hearing. The homeowner can discuss any issues or discrepancies with their property’s assessed value during this hearing. Once the homeowner has presented their case, they will receive the result of the grievance. If they agree with the revised value, no further action is necessary. However, if they still disagree, they can proceed to the next step.
The second step of the grievance process involves requesting a Board of Civil Authority hearing. The homeowner must adhere to the timeline indicated in the notice and contact the city clerk to schedule the hearing. During the hearing, the homeowner and the city will present their cases to the Board of Civil Authority. After all the hearings have concluded, the homeowner will receive a notice with the final result of the hearing. If they agree with the outcome, the process is concluded. If they remain dissatisfied, they have the option to either go to the state appraiser or request a court hearing as the third and final step.
Residents can find additional information and resources related to the reappraisal process on the city of South Burlington’s official website. The website provides access to current assessed values, information about the reappraisal process, and answers to frequently asked questions. Additionally, the city will share updates and relevant information through its newsletter, social media accounts, and Front Porch Forum.
To ensure that residents are informed about the mailed notices, the city will post updates on the website and distribute information through various channels. If any homeowner does not receive their notice, they can contact the appropriate department to retrieve the necessary information.
Understanding the citywide reappraisal process and its impact on property assessments is crucial for South Burlington residents. This article has provided detailed answers to frequently asked questions and highlighted the steps homeowners can take if they disagree with their assessed values. By familiarizing themselves with the process and utilizing the available resources, residents can address their concerns and ensure that their taxes are calculated accurately. The city of South Burlington remains committed to transparency and providing support to its residents throughout the reappraisal process.