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Department of Taxation and Finance

Real Property Tax Administration Committee

MINUTES
Thursday and Friday, December 12th & 13th, 2002 (1 - 5 pm & 8:30 - 1 pm)
Hampton Inn, Route 7, Latham, New York 12210

Facilitator: Tom Rutnik
Recorders: Tammy Stallings
Assessors:Tom Frey, Peter Galarneau, Richard Hubner, Nick Longo, Sue Otis and Todd Wiley
County Directors: Doug Barton, Valeria Coggin, Jim Gonyo, Caryn Kolts, Joe Maciejewski, and Dorothy Martin
ORPS: Tom Bellard, Frank Ferrari, Tom Griffin, Bruce Sauter and Richard Sinnott and JoAnn Whalen
Others: Jim O'Keefe, Geoffre Gloak, Jeff Green, Mike Griffen, Jeff Jordan, Tim Maher, Andrea Nilon, Tom Sess, Dave Williams and Robert Zandri,

    1. Get Organized

Minutes were approved with minor changes.

    1. Leader's Report

Assessors - Rick Hubner spoke about SOL non-forest appraisals having1991 inventory. Also 2002 rates were questioned regarding negotiation especially around annual reassessment verification being stretched for disbursement of dollars and resulting in tax shifts.

County Directors - Doug Barton discussed training and whether there is a budget decrease. Understanding is this is save harmless, budget item each year, and we will have to deal with it if it happens. Doug asked about the Railroad settlement, Jim O'Keeffe updated: of the 3 largest settlements the three largest railroads in the State are all in federal court. CSXT and the municipal defendants have reached a deadlock in negotiating a settlement and have requested that a mediator be appointed. Norfolk Southern and its defendant municipalities have reached an agreement in principle that should be finalized shortly. There has been no substantial activity in the Canadian Pacific litigation. The railroad bill passed both houses of the Legislature but has not been delivered to the Governor. Thus, everything is "status quo".

ORPS - Tom Griffen discussed concerns with acting and decision-making without the underlying data.

    1. Assessment Calendar Team Report

Andrea Nilon, assessor representative on the team, reported. Team first looked at the big picture, entire system but decided they couldn't make progress. Then narrowed focus and looked at only the assessment calendar. Determined that the process was okay after the final assessment roll was posted but timings prior to final roll needed analysis. Group did some outreach. County directors need some reversal of 520 corrections of errors (COE). BAR makes changes before levy. Need to change the concept of TSD. Revised dates were recommended for tentative roll, valuation date and taxable status date. There was discussion around each point as Andrea worked from presentation materials that had been used in the out reach sessions. Discussion pointed out pros and cons of each recommendation and general considerations for leaving current assessment calendar dates and times in place as well as advantages to recommended changes-in support of annual reassessment being done. General agreement on proposals is being distributed to wider audiences. ORPS has a placeholder in 2003 legislative package for this topic if we are able to move forward in the necessary time frame. Caution was advised and agreed to.

Action Item: Tom Frey will distribute presentation materials and proposal to respective county assessor presidents. Materials will identify the team members as resources with request for feedback/comments by the end of February. County Directors will discuss, review at February 2003 conference. Assessors will look for review/input at the February 03 AOT conference also.

    1. Reimbursement - 1537 Aid

Letter defining application process distributed to directors, 10/02. 3 applications have been submitted to date. Form is simple and the process is good.

    1. Annual Reassessment Symposium

Sue Otis informed the RPTAC members that the Evaluation Committee had the following members: Sue Otis, Valeria Coggin, Joe Muscarella and Richard Harris. Discussions among ORPS and assessors determined that a statewide questionnaire (survey), with response required by the end of the year, developed by SUNY and distributed to all assessing units in or which had been in the annual reassessment program since 1999 and all county directors. Time frames and availability of assessors because of assessment calendar requirements resulted in an early June target workshop date. Data collected from the survey will be used to structure that workshop. Other major players could respond but are not a part of survey results-primarily elected officials (CEOS) contractors etc. Preliminary data shows an overall response high at 60% with Central at 61% and South 90% (very few participants). There were generally three areas of questions: the assessor's perception as stakeholders-different groups within; satisfaction with ORPS participation and consistency; the level of understanding; resource evaluation, ORPS input and scientific approach; and a benefits determination from the assessor's perspective. There was considerable discussion regarding questionnaires for other stakeholders/groups-again CEOs etc.

Responses can be analyzed by region, county involvement, size/market type etc. Responses will also serve as data for structure and groupings at the June symposium. A summary report is scheduled around January 10, 2003 with review and final published around January 27, 2003. Plans will then be made for June symposium-it is possible CTG may be part of. Assessors will announce in newsletter.

    1. Training/Adhoc Team

Team has not met since last meeting. Issues were identified and agreements were made. Nothing new added. DOS external training is unchanged. There are no opportunities there for us or continuing education programs at colleges. Instruction has been through a mix of ORPS and assessment community. The basic reimbursement consisted of $45,900 potential and $42,100 paid. Continuing Education consisted of $195,500 and $91,500 with other category of $2,700. To date $234,000 out of $250,000 leaves approximately $65,900. Last quarter - basic paid and continuing education pro rata. 23 requests were denied - 8 for timing, 3 not eligible, 1 continuing education request but not yet basic and 5 at maximum allowable. ORPS and assessors maintain summary of evaluations on courses and instructors. Question as to what $2,700 other expense covered. Agreement had been reached that instructor reimbursement would not come from budget allocation. This will be corrected.

    1. ORPS Website/Listserv/State and Local Gateway

State and local government gateway is the technology of the future. CTG in program to evaluate cost, design of portals - selected agencies with a lot of local government interaction have been designated as participants- ORPS is one. The group discussed Listserv as another/alternative means of communication. It was agreed to use this communication medium and all members plus designated alternatives will be included. Tom Rutnik will implement.

    1. STAR

Robert Zandri reported on his meeting with DOB. Tax and Finance proposed procedures and timelines. ORPS will develop an on-line application so assessors can review and add social security numbers, assign termination. 2003: same process as before-enhanced applicants apply by T.S.D. can begin to identify parcels right away- 500,000 parcels by July 2003. ORPS will be getting the word out. It is anticipated that tax will verify by September 2003. This will be eligibility only-yes or no. Guide includes procedures with income verification. Present at NYSAC, AOT with prototype demo.

Day 2

Get Organized

    1. 2003 Equalization Rate Process/Annual Reassessment

Tim Maher discussed 2002 and 2003 rate plans. Overall ORPS goal is to have final current rear rates by September 1 of each year and as we move forward to increase the number of assessing units for which ORPS accepts the stated current year LOA. 2002 rates, 99% with 9/1-school levy had final rates, began the use of sales ratio and CAMA methodologies. Also, percentage of LOA accepted as the equalization rate increased from 40% to 65%. There was recognition that for the 2003 cycle, communication and the timeliness of communication needs to improve. 2003 procedures adopted by the State Board 11/02. RPTAC Equalization Committee developed the specifics and distributed for comments. There was general discussion of standards, schedule, as well as the reassessments being used and the plan for non-reassessment assessing units.

To do this, Dave Williams talked about the three levels of collaboration and the need to have collaboration sooner rather than later. Level 3, highest and most difficult to attain, is to get the local officials to do the work themselves. Level 2 is having the local officials in the room while we do the analysis. Level 1 is sharing the data that ORPS get out of the analysis. Most places will be Level 1 with review occurring between and April. Level 3 requires at least county support. County directors are dedicated to being part of the collaboration among town/state/vendor. Also, discussion about the Saratoga pilot and why that model is not proceeding: labor intensive, time, technical ability, etc.

There was considerable discussion around perceived inequities in that reassessment places getting more information and new techniques. Need more stability and explainable impacts. Cutoff date of 09/02 for all assessing units will help.

Dave Williams talked about adding feedback to the SPSS process. He mentioned that excel would not be useful for this process but there is a need/demand for alternative tools. Frank Ferrari suggested forming a team to discuss what is needed.

Action Item: Dave Williams will report back at next meeting about how the collaboration process is going. Joe Maciejewski will also report out on his towns, county involvement with vendor in collaboration. Rick Hubner will lead effort to get small group together to identify the tools the assessors need and see what they want to get out of this process. Frank will get back to Rick with 2 people from ORPS. Jay Franklin from Tompkins Co. will be county directors' rep.

    1. Valuation Issues

Jeff Jordan spoke about valuation issues. Recommendations for structure code changes were sent out, but not many responses. We are looking into the Mobile homes category submitted by Bill Cinquanti. We are looking into creating a property class for the double wide-not a clean direct change over because of variations in the way things done. We will bring back to the next meeting. Property Class Team will also be looking at this issue. A Valuation guideline course is underway (team meeting in early January). Presentations anticipated with 1 at the end of April 3 in June and 3 in September.

Action Item: Jeff Jordan will bring back a report on doublewide; also report from Property Class Team.

    1. Town Boards eliminating Interior Inspections

Sue Otis talked about this issue. What is the position of the agency? It's not consistent throughout the towns for interior inspections. Assessors need the town board to understand that this is part of assessment process, good data is critical, to get into the properties to assess the property. 190-1 of the rules applies but questions as to what was required and impact on aid. Discussion about outdated 15-B and failure of reassessments and the redefinition from the public right of way for the 1999 annual reassessment program and aid. The Valuation Issues Team will address this issue and bring back some recommendations at the next meeting.

Action Item: Frank Ferrari suggested making the decisions relative to the industry needs. Valuation Issues Team will review this and discuss at the next RPTAC meeting. Jim O'Keeffe will also review the State Aid provisions and attempt to find out whether any applications have been denied for failure to inspect interiors.

    1. Best Practices

Valeria shared information and materials focused around the secure part of ORPS' website for the assessment community. Recommendations included making the VFFs down loadable, a best practices section with RPTAC overseeing and possible financial rewards for items included, bulletin board added. Can ORPS include this in their efforts? What about Listserve? Group supported ideas.

Action Item: Geoff G. and JoAnn will follow up and report back.

    1. RPS Build 9.0/License Fee

Mike Griffen distributed status map. Some new places are added to V4. One noted loss is Columbia County. Build 9 released about 7 weeks late on 11/19/02. Additional testing and responding made quality improved. No questions yet but most plan to install after the January levy. The license fee was discussed. The projected increase is 22% across the board starting in 2004 for three years. Increase calculated on a one-year basis and taking loss of staff into account. Flat fee increase was not supported; as more would be adversely impacted-higher percentage increases. The current fee schedule will be in affect for the upcoming billing period. A public forum will have to be held before this is put into effect. Governance will have to recommend and the state board will approve it.

    1. Current Issues

A discussion took place about whether committee members should pay for information needed from ORPS. Issues around FOIL requests/fees etc were discussed.

Action Item: Tom Bellard will follow up and resolve with Tom Frey.

Tom Rutnik distributed a list of RPTAC sponsored teams and requested that respective leaders give him current membership. Many lists are outdated.

Action Item: Tom Rutnik will contact the members to make updates and put the updated information on the web board.

Next meeting: Thursday PM March 20 and Friday AM March 21.

      Next Agenda Items

      Training Committee

      Valeria's Best Practice

      Calendar Team

      Report back on Interior Inspection

    Valuation
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