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Department of Taxation and Finance

Real Property Tax Administration Committee

Thursday, April 17, 2003 (10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.)
Office of Real Property Services
Board Room -5th Floor
Albany, New York 12210

Facilitator: Tom Rutnik
Recorders: Tammy Stallings
Assessors:Cathy Conklin, Tom Frey, Richard Hubner, Nick Longo, Sue Otis and Patrick Duffy (Videoconference)
County Directors: Doug Barton, Valeria Coggin (Videoconference), Jim Gonyo, Caryn Kolts (Videoconference), Joe Maciejewski (Teleconference) and Dorothy Martin, Richard Sheflin
ORPS: Tom Bellard, Tom Griffin, Bruce Sauter, Richard Sinnott and JoAnn Whalen
Others: Richard Harris, Steve King, Geoffrey Gloak, Robert Zandri, Robert Aiken, Jeffrey Jordan, Bob Mark, Tim Maher, Dave Williams, Jim O'Keeffe, Mark Twentyman, Dennis Jersey

    1. Get Organized

Minutes were approved with no changes.

    1. Leader's Report

Assessors (Rick Hubner) - Rick had concerns that several training courses were canceled and asked if any had been courses offered over the Internet. He stated that training is valuable and wondered if it getting short shifted? He spoke about the importance of training for the new assessors. Also, Rick stated that he did not like the shortened format of this RPTAC meeting. He feels that RPATC is an opportunity to brainstorm ideas.

County Directors (Doug Barton) - Doug agreed that training is essential. He asked about grievance booklets and asked for confirmation that the booklets are not going to be mailed to the assessment community. He was worried that going to the regions doesn't work for everyone and wondered if they could be mailed to the County offices. We have a responsibility to have the materials available to people.

ORPS - Tom Griffen discussed the fact that there are no funds available for these issues. Training is important, but we canceled courses because of money. If assessors are willing to pay for their own traveling expenses maybe we can offer the training. ORPS will look into the matter. Grievance booklets will not be mailed out because of budget restraints. PDF versions are being made available via the Internet and regions will have copies, as well.

    1. Valuation Issues - Valuation Guidelines / Prop Class CodeTeam / Manufactured Housing / VFF Update

Valuation Guidelines - Jeff Jordan discussed the valuation guidelines. Three courses were not given during June in Albany, Syracuse, and Newburgh due to low attendance and budget concerns. Perhaps we should reschedule for the fall.

Property Class Code Team Bob Aiken reported for the Property Class Code Team. Waterfront property class codes, consolidation of codes were discussed. An updated version of the Property Class Code Manual will be available on the ORPS Internet. RPS programs will be modified to reflect the property class code changes. The RPS Governance Committee has pushed the date to January 2004 and the changes will take effect for the 2004 roll.

Valuation Issues Team (Manufacturing Housing) This issue is a follow-up to a request from Bill Cinquanti (Cortland County) to review the valuation of mobile homes. The team decided to make no changes to property class codes, but a new building code was added for mobile homes.

As a continuation of a prior team charge residential and commercial data collection cards were reviewed. The assessment community was contacted to solicit comments on structure codes. Due to the expiration of the Boechk contract changes to structure codes are on hold. Some name changes for structure codes were decided on and include: open porch to open porch / deck and machinery shed to shed.

VFF - Bob Aiken informed the group that ORPS will no longer produce a statewide VFF.

Bruce Sauter spoke about the intervening legislative changes that were taking place. RPS Governance Committee agreed that these were necessary.

Action Item: Bruce will notify Sue Otis when legislative changes are approved. Bob Aiken will get this Property Class Code information out to Assessors, County directors and the assessment community via Uniform Standard, Listserve and electronic mail. Valuation Issues Team will determine the need for VFF data and the best way to handle sharing VFF data.

    1. Town Board Eliminating Interior Inspections

Jim O'Keffee spoke about this issue. Prior RPTAC meeting Jim said he would research the law and report back with results. 15b rules and requirements were discussed. Jim stated that no one was denied aid for not doing interior inspections. The current rules do not include interior inspections. Valuation Issues Team will listen to concerns and act accordingly. The group decided that this topic should be included under the new Best Practices section of the ORPS Web Site.

Action Item:Valuation Issues Team will discuss standard 190-1.1

    1. Assessment Calendar Team - Next Steps

Jim O'Keefee discussed this issue. He said that feedback has been generally well received but not many people responding at this time. Any future comments can be forwarded to the Assessment Calendar Team. It was noted that comments from Warren and Yates County would be sent to the team.

    1. Training/Adhoc Team

Tom Bellard mentioned that the three training classes that were halted were not Internet based. He also stated that everything is being affected by the budget not just training.

Robert Zandri spoke about training. He stated that there is web based scheduled for May and other classroom training in June, but that will depend upon the budget. ORPS would like to work on the existing proposed curriculum considering the work already done to try to implement the program. Robert Zandri and Tom Bellard can be contacted about this. The Utica Rome conference is scheduled for August 4-8, 2003.

    1. STAR - Training Material/Application

Robert Zandri discussed this issue. He stated that software has been developed, testing going on. We are on schedule for July as the timeline from February stated. Bob indicated that the STAR release date is July. Rick Hubner (Beta-site) wondered how soon they could get on-line after the July release date. Users can begin using as soon as the application is released.

    1. RPS - Citrix/RPS Support Update

Dennis Jersey spoke about this issue. He gave a brief overview of Citrix. Citrix allows you to run V4 on a server and access the application remotely. Some software (thin client) is on the PC and users dial in and get access to the application. Rensselaer and Onondaga have taken advantage of this so far. Questions were asked concerning financial costs, it was determined that ORPS would pay approximately $4500 and the county would pay approximately $4500. ORPS RSP V4 web page has a Citrix Metaframe and includes a detailed report on the progress of tests done approximately a year ago. Rick Hubner said that he would like to see this marketed to Counties via Listserv or The Uniform Standard.

Action Item: Jeff Gloak will get the information out through Listserve.

    1. Migrant Farm Workers' Housing Exemption (new section 483-d)

Bob Mark discussed this issue. He stated that there are a lot of problems with interpretation of this statute in identifying which types of housing are covered by this exemption. Farmers, assessors and ORPS will have to work together determining whether all the needed documents are present. ORPS has distributed this information through email to all assessors and it is currently on our website. We will look forward to answering any questions from assessors on this. This way both the farmers and assessors will know what the statute means.

    1. Best Practices / Secure Internet Site

Valeria asked if everyone had a chance to look at the material provided at the last RPTAC meeting and asked about support from RPTAC. She suggested forming a group from all three areas (Assessors, County Directors and ORPS) with JoAnn Whalen assisting. Valaria suggested presenting this at the County Director's Association. She expressed that a couple of counties are interested in the program. It was noted that a "Best Practices" web site would need to be promoted and managed to be useful.

Action Item: Best Practices Committee will be formed. Members will include Valeria Coggin, Patrick Duffy and an ORPS representative to be announced.

    1. 2003 Equalization Rate Process / Annual Reassessment

Tim Maher reported that ORPS is on schedule to establish tentative equalization rates in May and to establish final rates in July. The plan is to establish final 2003 equalization rates in time for the school districts to apportion taxes in August. Tim stated that one of the improvements that was made this year is that staff is meeting with the assessors prior to tentative roll date to share information on the level of assessment in the municipality. Tim hopes that the increase in communication between the assessors and ORPS staff prior to the establishment of the tentative rate will lead to an increase in the percentage of assessing units where the level of assessment stated by the assessor is accepted as the equalization rate.

Dave Williams gave an update on the status of pre-decisional collaboration meetings that are being held between regional staff and assessors. Dave reported that he has heard mostly positive feedback regarding the meetings. He reported that for future years we would like to hold the pre-decisional collaboration meetings much earlier in the cycle. The goal for 2004 equalization rates is to start meeting with assessors in the fall of 2003. Dave reported that there have been a few municipalities that have dropped their plans to conduct reassessment this year, but that the vast majorities are going ahead with their plans to reassess.

    1. Equalization Tools

Rick Hubner spoke about this issue. Rick stated that he met with Jay Franklin (Tompkins County) and Jeff Bartholomew (ORPS - Syracuse). They discussed whether there are means to do a good analysis and what is available or could be available. Their thought process was that it should be a component of data warehouse or made available through the web.

Action Item: Can this be done through the data warehouse? ORPS, Bruce, Dave and Dennis will look into this and share at future meetings.


    1. Evaluation Consortium - Annual Reassessment Survey Report

Dick Harris reported on this issue. The Report and Survey had been made available via the RPATC Web Board. He responded to the questions on the survey report. He spoke about the proposed workshop. Dick, Sue, Valeria and Joe Muscarella are working on this at their sub-committee meeting on the 28th. The date of the workshop is in early September. Dick mentioned that the budget has to be considered also. Our intent is to keep going however, and hopefully things will go forward. One concern that came out of the survey is that information or perception is not consistent.

Action ItemDick and Sue will report back at the next RPTAC meeting about their meeting on the 28th.


    1. Current Issues

Rich Sinnott discussed the Niagara Mohawk letter concerning Special Districts (Town of Clifton Park) and stated it should not be considered for existing Special Districts for this year's assessment roll. This case does not mean for assessors to erase properties from your roll. ORPS will be sending out a memorandum in the next few days with instructions about this issue. If your situation is the same as the Town of Clifton Park you are not bound by the decision. Talk to your Town Attorney and consider the decision in conjunction with the memorandum that ORPS will be sending out.

Tom Frey talked about town of Malta. The decision is being appealed. 727 bill with annual reassessment.

Jim Gonyo talked about an appeal filed and won by his area. We brought in copies of previous roll, field documents and it paid off and we won.


    1. Future RPTAC Meetings

Back to the two day meetings at the Hampton Inn.

Next meeting: June 24 and 25, 2003.