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Department of Taxation and Finance

Real Property Tax Administration Committee

Thursday and Friday September 25th & 26th, 2003 (1-5 p.m. & 8:30-1 p.m.)
Office of Real Property Services
Albany, New York 12210

Facilitator: Tom Rutnik
Recorders: Janice Heeran
Assessors:Cathy Conklin, Tom Frey, Richard Hubner, Nick Longo, Patrick Duffy and Peter Galarneau
Others: Sue Otis, Rosalie Fahey
County Directors: Doug Barton, Valeria Coggin, Caryn Kolts, Joe Maciejewski, Dorothy Martin and Richard Sheflin
ORPS: Tom Griffin, Bruce Sauter, Tom Bellard, Richard Sinnott and JoAnn Whalen
Others: Geoff Gloak, Jim O'Keeffe, Tim Maher, Robert Zandri, Chuck Aviza, Jeff Jordan, Paul Szwedo

 Get Organized

Minutes were approved with no changes.

      • Valeria suggested a review of the document (spell check) and also minor revisions that need not be brought before the entire committee. (Tom Rutnik)
      • A written report from each of the sub-groups should be made PRIOR to the December meeting.
      • Agenda setting
        • Need rep from each group (i.e. ORPS)
        • Identify results
        • Parking lot, future items
      • Reserve meetings for problem solving
      • Review subgroups
        • Require Annual Report from each subgroup
      • Look to other 2 groups (Assessors and County Directors) to take more responsibility for leading issues
      • “Reports” done outside meeting, leave meeting for meaningful discussion
      • ORPS should do immediate follow-up with OMT
      • Review guideline ground rules to focus on on-going management responsibility of RPTAC
      • Need accountability once decision is made by RPTAC
      • Decide on communication beyond RPTAC for each issue discussed

Assessors (Rick Hubner) – Rick discussed the change in the structure of the RPTAC meetings. He would like to see longer more in depth discussions on topics. He feels that the meetings have too many report-outs and not enough time for meaningful discussion. Rick noted that Todd Wiley could not attend the meeting and was replaced by Patrick Duffy.

County Directors (Doug Barton) – Doug noted that Caryn Kolts has replaced Jim Gonyo as a member of RPTAC. Doug voiced concern that the meeting agenda was changed one week before the meeting without his input. Also, the lack meeting material hinders the members preparation for the meeting.

Doug added that he wanted STAR re-certification amounts added back to the agenda.

ORPS (Tom Griffen) – Tom apologized for not including Doug in the agenda revision. Tom also feels that the RPTAC meetings need to allow greater time for discussion.

STAR re-certification amounts and Assessment Calendar Team were added to the agenda. 

Dick Harris gave an overview of the ORPS Strategic Planning Process. Dick reviewed the agency mission, vision, goals and values of the organization. ORPS also has a review of Measures for the organization, setting targets. Dick explained the targets and percentages met for each year. Major improvement objectives are called strategic thrusts. Each year ORPS reviews and makes a determination using a 5 year plan on what direction the organization should be headed. ORPS is looking at ways to reach out to communities to deliver our message. We have a detailed plan that we've put together to improve the governmental alliances

He then presented a more detailed review of the SWP03-08#4 Collaboration Plan and the eight initiatives in the plan. Vince Smith reviewed his new role and explained ORPS's effort to reach out to all stakeholders in the Real Property Tax System. This is an effort to try and identify what people are doing and what is transportable from one county to another. We understanding it's not possible everywhere, each county operates differently. But if there are things we can assist a county in doing, to improve the process. Identify how they are using the system, products and services, how satisfied they are and ask for ways to improve.

Rick Hubner: users / stakeholders, biggest concern, yes they are stakeholders, but they are customers. I don't want to have someone come in and dictate to me. There are ‘customers' and there are ‘stakeholders'. There are people who don't pay.

Doug Barton raised an issue concerning the Town of Owego (493000). His concern was over a large shift in the Town's full value following a revaluation. He asked if a law could be passed to protect the municipality doing the revaluation from such a large shift.

Other issues raised during the discussion included:

Cathy Conklin voiced concern over the Large Parcel Bill.

A question was asked to define Business continuity. The way to determine/ensure what resources are needed to get the job done.

Tom Griffen felt that the cycle bill would not pass the legislature.

Action Item (2003 #16): Impact of post revaluation tax shift analyzed. Town of Owego (493000, Tioga County) has 5 school districts. Large shift of taxes to school portions within town. Doug Barton will send data to Dave Williams. (within 1 month – Doug Barton, Dave Williams, Bob Gawrelski) 

STAR: (Robert Zandri)
Income verification program, letter sent individually, no activity on website. Some responses, some have enhanced STAR holders don't want to participate and we're keeping track of those. Want to encourage assessors to participate ASAP abide by the mid-October deadline. Hopefully the reminder notice will get to those who need to update.

Some RPTAC members felt that the STAR floors were difficult to explain. They are looking to ORPS for help.

Administrative Aid – approval from Budget for $6.29 million to be distributed. Preparing correspondence now that includes the allocation rates to be distributed by the end of Oct.

Action Item (2003 #20): ORPS will work through STAR issues and report back at next RPTAC meeting. (Robert Zandri)

Action Item (2003 #21): ORPS will prepare informational piece to explain STAR floors to be reviewed at next meeting. (Robert Zandri, Geoff Gloak)

Training: Cathy Conklin noted that the minutes from the July committee meeting were not distributed until shortly before the RPTAC meeting. She would have liked more time to review the minutes and resolve any discrepancies.

The Ad Hoc Training Committee will reconvene to review and reach consensus on two issues (Comprehensive – optional for elected assessors and training reimbursement for assessment staff). Also, the committee is to develop criteria for the new Training Advisory Board and pass the criteria to Association Presidents. Members for the new Advisory Board will be chosen at next RPTAC meeting.

Action Item (2003 #22): Ad Hoc Training Committee will reconvene to resolve two issues (continuing education requirements for elected assessors and training reimbursement for non-assessor personnel) and develop criteria for new Training Advisory Board and pass the criteria to Association Presidents. Members will be chosen at next RPTAC meeting. 

  • 2003 Equalization Rates 

Tim Maher reported that ORPS established final 2003 State equalization rates prior to September 1 for every school district that apportions school taxes on September 1. Tim reported that ORPS accepted the level of assessment (LOA) stated on the tentative roll for 76% of the cities and towns. Tim also distributed graphs showing the percentage change in full value between the 2002 and 2003 equalization rates by municipality and by parcel count.

Tim reported that the RPTAC equalization subcommittee has met twice this year and has a meeting scheduled on October 1, 2003. The subcommittee is developing procedures for 2004 equalization rates. Tim reported that one significant improvement for 2004 equalization rates is that ORPS staff will begin holding pre-decisional collaboration meetings with assessors and county directors much earlier than in previous years. The meetings for 2004 equalization rates will begin on October 2003. The plan is to resolve any differences in the opinion of market value well before tentative roll date. 

The purpose of this discussion was to review RPTAC team performance and discuss the future of RPTAC. The following is a summary of comments made during the meeting:

Review of Mission Statement, Principles, Values, Guidelines and Ground Rules:

When new members came on they should be given a set of materials to prepare them.

RPTAC Members indicated that there were no major changes needed to the Mission Statement, Principles, Values, Guidelines and Ground Rules. They felt that they the documents need to read and followed.

Is RPTAC achieving its mission ?

Some members felt that said the group gives constructive advice, but is not reaching any conclusions. Other felt that is was achieving its mission but needed to communicate better between meetings. Better follow-up on issues between meetings will allow more time for meaningful discussion.

RPTAC Action Items 

ORPS staff and RPTAC members need to have a better understanding of the action items. People listed on Action Items or Agenda Topics need to have material disseminated 2-3 weeks prior to the meeting for committee to review prior to the meeting.

RPTAC Chartered Sub-groups/Teams/Committees

Rick had the comment that sub-committees used to be listed on the back of the Agenda. Tom Rutnik will try and contact members on the list and communicate with the team leaders. Committees are supposed to provide an annual report and RPTAC has not been asking for them. We have to decide if they are still active. Perhaps we need to change the Charter regarding this.

A written report from the sub-groups should be made PRIOR to the December meeting. 

Valuation Issues Team Report (Chuck Aviza) – The valuation issues team sent a letter to Assessors and County Directors surveying the need for a Valuation Library to be kept at the County Level. The survey did not have a wide response, although some indicated great interest. The team has decided not to purse the creation of a County-wide Valuation Library.

Cost System (Chuck Aviza): ORPS staff met with people from Marshall Swift to discuss the Marshall Swift / Boeckh merger. The Boeckh format will no longer be supported by Marshall Swift / Boeckh. The ORPS Valuation System uses the Boeckh format. ORPS has given file formats and models to the Marshall Swift / Boeckh representatives to determine the feasibility and cost of having the Marshall Swift data converted to the Boeckh format. An update should be available before the next RPTAC meeting.

Appraisal Gideline Course (Jeff Jordan): The lack of interest in the Appraisal guidelines courses that had been scheduled was discussed. RPTAC members asked that ORPS review the notice of the courses to determine if proper notice was given to the assessment community.

Action Item (2003 #23): Appraisal (Valuation) Guidelines Course – Review notice for previously scheduled classes. Determine if proper notice given. (Jeff Jordan)

Action Item Update: It was determined that proper notice was not given. The courses will be scheduled for June and September of 2004.  

Rick Hubner asked about enhancements to the data warehouse and is still waiting for an answer. (Action Item 2003 #2) 

       Doug Barton brought the issue of Counties changing their Deed Recording Systems (Book and Page). The potential for systems implications in RPS and the ORPS Sales Database System were discussed.

Action Item (2003 #24): Review Book and Page issue report back to RPTAC as needed. Counties are changing recording schemes away from book and page. Potential for systems implications for RPS and ORPS Sales database. (Tom Griffen).  

    1. Current Issues


    1. Valuation Issues:


    1. RPTAC Survey Review


    1. ORPS E-Government
      • May need greater local government representation
      • Team is advisory to ORPS
      • Time commitment may be problematic
      • Time spent on planning may be excessive
        Minutes should be more detailed
      • No decision making authority, it all has to go up to main ORPS management
      • Membership definition language not clear
      • Under Objectives: clarify communication and relationship w/EGT
      • Deliverables reported to EGT and Customer Groups
      • Need greater representation of assessment community on ISOT
      • County Director priorities differ from Assessor, so both need to be on ISOT in separate groups
      • County Clerks as a customer group
      • Coordinators for ORPS - Albany is out of synch
      • Decision making language poor, needs clarification
      • PMU can't act as facilitators, etc.
      • Availability
      • Understanding of needs and interest of community groups
      • Open minded advocates that work well with others
      • IT knowledge

The goal of the ORPS E-Government discussion was to charter a group and establish the criteria to be included in this group.

Bruce Sauter gave a presentation of the proposed ORPS E-Government governance structure. Bruce explained that the E-Government Guidance Team is patterned after the RPS Governance Team. The Information Services Oversight Team (ISOT) is patterned somewhat like the RPS Change Control Board. People are motivated about their own needs, but hopefully we can network to optimize the technology contribution to the assessment community and provide help to fill the gaps. ORPS is hoping to get participation from RPTAC to identify people to see if they're interested to participate on the team.

Tom Griffen suggested using the existing members of the RPS Governance Team and have them be on the E-Government Guidance Team as part of the Information Services Oversight Team. It was pointed out that many members of the RPS are volunteers and changing their charge may not be what they agreed to do. It might drive them away and lose focus on the critical RPS system needs.

Paul Swzedo had a slide presentation on “Sharing Knowledge through Collaborative Efforts”. (This had previously been discussed as Best Practices at RPTAC meetings). The purpose is to share knowledge and resources with one another through a secure environment. Items of interest could be submitted on the Web Board, ListServ, or Mailbox established at ORPS. The knowledge officer will monitor information submitted and the goal would be to have it posted within 5 business days. A template would be developed for consistency and ease. A section would be provided for feedback. We hope to get this up and running by December.

Bruce shared the EGT Charter and discussed who are the current members and their roles, and roles that still need to be filled. A copy of the charter was distributed to RPTAC members for comments and revisions.

Comments on the E-Gov Charter

Comments on the ISOT Charter:

Criteria for EGT Members and Local Government

Action Item (2003 #18):Bruce will Contact IT Directors group and ask for an EGT representative. (within 3 weeks – Bruce Sauter).

Action Item (2003 #19): Association Presidents will get back to Bruce Sauter with 2 EGT representatives (within 2 weeks - Joe Maciejewski, Peter Galarneau). 






    1. ORPS Strategic Plan (Collaboration)


  1. Leaders Report

Other Topics:

Assessment Calendar Team:

Jim O'Keeffe submitted the Assessment Calendar Team's report to RPTAC. The report was accepted by RPTAC and the team is no longer active. Two suggestions by the team will be pursued. The Equalization Sub-committee will look at changing the data submitted in the assessor's reports. Also, ORPS will pursue changing the Valuation date to July 1 st .

Action Item (2003 #17): Result of Assessment Calendar Team recommendations - ORPS Program Bill to change Valuation Date to 7/1. (Fall 2003 – Tom Griffen)

Annual Reassessment Symposium Review:

The Annual Reassessment workshop was held September 3. Dick Harris and Sue Otis will distribute the meeting notes via the RPTAC Web Board. The organizing group will be meeting on October 9 th to discuss next steps.

Legislative Issues:

An updated status list of RPT Related legislative bills was distributed. There were two items of note since the June RPTAC meeting. The Governor signed the Assessor Financial Disclosure Requirement Bill (A.3803-a) and the Governor's Brownfields Bill (A.9120) had passed both houses as of September 16th.

Next meeting:
Date: December 10 th -11 th
Location: ORPS – 16 Sheridan Avenue Albany