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Department of Taxation and Finance

RPTAC Equalization Project Team-2000 Annual Report


November 15, 2001

FROM: RPTAC Equalization Project Team
SUBJECT: 2001 Progress and Future Report

Our Charter charges us for a one year period with evaluation by RPTAC occurring in the last quarter of the calendar year. We are submitting this report to identify the issues discussed, report the progress made and make recommendations for continuation and future topics.

During 2001, this team met eight times: March 21, March 28-special joint RPTAC and RPTAC equalization groups, May 8, May 25, June 11, July 27, August 29, and October 17. The meetings were held in the Manlius Town Hall, except the March 28th meeting held in Syracuse, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. with all participants commuting. Advance agendas were determined and generally material for issues to be discussed was distributed in advance. In situations where additional data or materials were distributed at the meeting, copies were subsequently distributed to those not attending.

Issues Identified for 2001 and Results Summary: These were carried forward from the 2000 annual report.

Increase the use of tentative assessment rolls to calculate tentative rates. Result: for 2000 rates-38 assessing units; for 2001 rates-743 assessing units. This effort was necessary and essential to achieve timely final rates for school apportionment by mid August.

Increase the use of Current Year Rates-in school and county apportionment processes. Result: 2000 rates-490 assessing units and 182 school districts. 2001 rates-943 out of 944 assessing units and 429 out of 433 school districts. The one assessing unit rate not final in time affected the apportionment process in four school districts. This reduced the number of special rates from 61 to 14. For county apportionment purposes, 2000 rates-33 counties of the 55 that apportion taxes. 2001 rates-53 counties to date and we are still striving to finalize the other two.
Discuss/review and develop the procedures for level of assessment verification, for all assessing units, and the use of those results as the equalization rate. Result-this topic took the most time and effort with two major work products produced in the appropriate and defined time frame. The first work product was proposed changes to the Rate Complaint Rules, 186-15. These are currently with the Governor's Office of Regulatory Reform. These were developed as more general and left wide open to allow assessing units' the ability to provide any and all data to support a level of assessment determination. These rules must be complimented by much more specific procedures which will be presented and reviewed by the State Board annually. As a result of that agreement, the second major work product was the 2002 proposed rate procedures in which steps/actions are detailed for assessing units conducting timely reassessments and for those not conducting reassessments that will allow each assessing unit to notify ORPS of its 2002 level of assessment (LOA). Upon ORPS review of that information in line with nationally recognized norms and variances, either the LOA will become the assessing unit's 2002 equalization rate or else ORPS will determine the prevailing LOA which will become the 2002 equalization rate. These 2002 rate procedures were released for public comment by the State Board on 9/11/01.

Triennial and Annual Reassessments-integrating with and implementing for use in full value measurement and rates. Result-the 2002 procedures allow for assessing units in either of these situations to report to ORPS each year their respective LOA and supporting data for the conclusion.

Assessor's Annual Report (AAR)-analysis of the need for AARs in certain circumstances and definition of procedures in support of changes, if appropriate. Result-this was not addressed this year but would recommend that the topic be carried forth to next year's list of issues.

Identification of and recommendations around valuation issues as they impact and apply to the equalization process. Result-Because the equalization program does not make valuation conclusions or decisions but compiles those decisions which are made by valuation staff in ORPS in the regional offices and staff in Albany responsible for utility valuation conclusions, this group can only identify valuation issues for referral to the Valuation Issues team, another RPTAC chartered team. Valuation issues identified were trend procedures and resultant valuation conclusions; large parcels and generating facilities and their respective market value determinations; and consistency/lack thereof between valuation conclusions within the value verification process for reassessments, especially annual program participants, and non reassessment assessing units.

Trending Applications-implementation in the equalization process and annual reassessment programs. Result-this item addressed above.

Communication/equalization program understanding-while this issue was not identified in last year's report, the team spent considerable time and effort in reviewing materials and discussing ways to deliver the message to the assessment community at large. A number of informational sessions were held statewide over a very short time frame with the same content and presenter in an attempt to build understanding and awareness.

Legislative status-again while this was not an issue identified in last year's report, each meeting included status review and discussion relating proposals and their connection and impact on the equalization program. Often these discussions identified areas for consideration around needed legislation.


2002 Issues:

At our October 17th 2001 meeting, discussion during our review of topics that the team covered in 2001 resulted in a team agreement that our charter should continue in 2002. Our work focus will be on the following issues which we feel are the most important at this time but new or additional issues may develop over time.

Evaluate the experiences of 2002 rates and LOA acceptance/determinations, react and determine adjustments that may need to be made.

Evaluate the 2002 communication effort and make recommendations for the 2003 effort.

Develop and define 2003 rate procedures.

Identify ways/methods to assist assessing units in appropriately determining LOAs annually.

Conduct an after the fact review of the 2001 rate complaint process.

Determine how and when to communicate with the Valuation Issues team.

Assure that the current rates/current roll standard is maintained and the lag continues to be eliminated.

Review the need for AAR information in certain circumstances and define procedures in support of changes if appropriate.

The team membership in 2001 consisted of four county directors: Tom Bloodgood (Chair),
Paul Burckard, Rick Dean and Bob Diener who is the designated chair for 2002; four assessors:
David Briggs (Chair), Barbara Bounds, Val Martins and Roger Tibbetts with Edye McCarthy added
during the year; and three ORPS staff: Tim Maher, Jim O'Keeffe and Jo Ann Whalen. ORPS
should continue the practice of bringing in appropriate staff depending upon the specific program
or content areas.

The Team would strive to meet four to six times in 2002 and most likely in the same location.
Each of the respective incoming presidents has indicated that the membership will not change. Our
initial 2002 meeting is scheduled for March 6th in Manlius from 10-3.