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Department of Taxation and Finance

Real Property Tax Administration Committee

MINUTES
Thursday and Friday March 16 & 17, 2005
Board Room, 16 Sheridan Avenue, Albany NY 12210

Facilitator: Tom Rutnik
Recorders: Janice Heeran
Assessors:Cathy Conklin, Tom Frey, Curt Schoeberl, J. Todd Wiley, Rick Hubner, Patrick Duffy
County Directors:Valeria Coggin, Caryn Kolts, Joseph Maciejewski, John McCarey, Kathy Myers (Alt), Mike Swan
ORPS: Tom Griffen, Tom Bellard, Bruce Sauter, Rich Sinnott, John Wolham, and JoAnn Whalen,
Others: Geoff Gloak, Paul Szwedo, Dennis Jersey, Dick Harris, Jim O'Keeffe, Bill Godell, Tim Maher, Jeff Jordan Steve Harrison, Robert Zandri, Steve King, Kim Manley, Joe Gerberg, Dawn Farrar, John Bonanno, Cheryl Winter, Dave Shanley, Reesa Guarino, Tom Pinto

William Quick, Megan Cook

Guests: Kathy Bishop (Teleconference)

Get Organized/What's New?

Minutes were approved with no changes. No changes were made to the meeting agenda. Members noted that changes to the scheduled meeting dates should be avoided. Also, corrections to the RPTAC Mission Statement on the ORPS website were noted and have been made. Tom Frey noted that parking at ORPS is difficult and expensive. He will try to find another meeting location for future RPTAC meetings.

 

    1.  
        • Understand the value of parcel data to organizations in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors in NYS

        • Describe current and potential uses of parcel data

        • Identify issues associated with the collection, sharing, and distribution of parcel data

      • Identify specific interests of those who collect, use and supply parcel data
      • Current and potential uses of parcel data
      • Value of parcel data to various users
      • Current and potential methods of distribution
      • Current problems regarding collection, use, and distribution of parcel data
      • Flow of parcel data among government organizations and between government and the private and nonprofit sectors
      • Data sharing methods and policies
      • Data management, forms, and formats
      • Costs of collection, use, and supply
      • Broad recognition of parcel data content, value, and uses
      • Standard parcel identification and location information
      • On-line access in a variety of formats
      • An acknowledged and authoritative source
      • Feedback from data users to data sources for data improvement
      • Balanced approaches to the costs and benefits associated with collection, use, and supply
      Center for Technology in Government (CTG) - "A Reconnaissance Study of the Use of Parcel Data in New York State" - Megan Cook
    2. Commercial Valuation (County Initiatives) - John Bonanno, Bruce Sauter
    3. Equalization Project Team / PDC Evaluation - Tim Maher, Bob Gawrelski
    4. Valuation (New Valuation Date) - Rick Hubner
    5. E-Government Survey - Tom Rutnik, RPTAC Members
    6. Sales Processing Team - Tim Maher
    7. Disclosure/Impact Notices - T. Frey, T. Wiley, T. Frank
    8. Training Governance Group - Jeff Bartholomew, Cathy Conklin
    9. Bank Codes - R. Sinnott, Kathy Bishop
    10. e-STAR Application
    11. RPTAC Sub-committees

Background: Tom Griffen noted that one of the Real Property Tax Alliance's guiding principles is to examine the inter-connectivity of Real Property Tax data with other governmental departments and agencies. These principles can help guide government agencies to make more efficient investments.

Megan Cook of the Center for Technology in Government (CTG) gave a presentation of Key Findings from the Reconnaissance Study of the Use of Parcel Data in New York State conducted by CTG for ORPS. 

      The objectives of the study were as follows:

The approach used was a reconnaissance study which yielded a snapshot in time. It was not comprehensive but reasonably representative and focused on breadth not depth. The participating counties were chosen to be demographically, operationally and geographically diverse.

The five counties selected were: Chemung, Dutchess, Erie, Saratoga and Suffolk. The areas of investigation included:

The roles of: Data collector, Data user and Data supplier were studied. The stakeholders identified included: Assessors, Community/Neighborhood Groups, County Real Property Tax Services Offices, Non-profit Professional Organizations, Other County and Municipal Government Agencies, Private Companies, State Agencies, Property Owners and Property Occupants. The value, cost, use, interest in, and problems associated with parcel data was studied.

The report concluded that: Parcel data is important to every organization, all use parcel data to support their missions and that many said their work could not be done without it.

The report noted that in treating parcel data as a statewide resource, the following principles are emerging:

The full report should be available on the CTG Website (http://www.ctg.albany.edu/) in the near future.  

 

  • Subject Data Collection / Verification
  • Sales Collection / Verification
  • Neighborhood Delineation
  • Determine Base Factors and Adjustments
  • Parcel Valuation
  • Validation of Values
  • Data (Storage, Presentation, Access & Documentation)
    1.  
      • Step 1: Obtain current, accurate data
        • Lease information (rents and terms)
        • Vacancy rates
        • Expenses or expense ratios
        • Investment data (Capitalization rates, mortgage rates, equity rates)
        • Market trends
      • Step 2: Group market data
        • Analyze commercial sub-markets (office, retail, apartments, lodging, warehouses)
      • Step 3: Use accepted analytical techniques
        • Analyze market for each group
        • Apply conclusions to each market area
      • Validate Results  
      • Put an item on the "What's New" section of the ORPS web site
      • Put an article in the Uniform Standard
      • Send a press release to the NYS BAR Association
      • Send a message to the assessment community via listserv 
      • 33 of 57 counties had at least one response (58%)
      • 429 of 980 municipalities responded (44%)  
      • Assessors - Larry Quinn (T. Arcadia), Eileen Kelly (T. Goshen), Christine Fusco (T. Lancaster)
      • County Directors - Bill Budde (Niagara), Jay Franklin (Tompkins), Karen Carney (Onondaga)
      • ORPS - Tim Maher, Kim Manley, Mary Ilacqua  
      • Bank code automation has improved the process
      • An Opinion of Counsel is need from ORPS on the accepting automation of 953 forms
      • Do mandates need to be revisited for the 953 form, the timing of the form, compliance, legislation to help automate the process?
      • Where should the function reside?
      • Should bank code processing be standardized and what should the standards be?
      • Should Tax Receivers/Collectors have limited access to Real Property Tax records for bank code updates?  
      • 277,689 Social Security numbers processed through the web application
        • This reflects an increase of approx. 52,000 newly entered Social Security numbers
      • 83% of the Social Security numbers were "Approved" as meeting the income limit
      • 3% of the Social Security numbers were "Denied" due to income being over the limit
      • 14% of the Social Security numbers fell into the "Undetermined" category
        • This is where Tax & Finance could not make a match due to income tax reporting discrepancies
      • Short timeframe for residents that fail to qualify for IVP to submit new forms for the exemption, especially if municipality has an early taxable status date
      • Postcard needs to be changed
        • Printing in the return postage area
        • Want return address of assessors office
        • Wording on back of card confusing  

Saratoga County: John Bonanno reviewed a commercial valuation improvement project that took place in Saratoga County. The project was a collaborative effort between ORPS, Saratoga County RPT Office, GAR Associates and assessors in Saratoga County.

The purpose of the pilot was to explore opportunities to integrate business processes for valuation of data and documentation among stakeholders at the local and state levels. The scope of the pilot project was limited to 411's and 480's. GAR worked side-by-side and in parallel with the pilot participants. Data was shared between ORPS, assessors and the Saratoga County RPT office.

The seven steps of the valuation process included:

John noted the following areas that have the potential for improvement opportunities: Enlarged Sales Database, the verification of sales and data collection and consistent and correct data collection.

Ulster County: Bruce Sauter reviewed the Commercial Market Trend Analysis project undertaken in Ulster County. The project concentrated on use of the Income approach to value due to the fact that commercial property is primarily acquired for the purpose of its income potential. The project was conducted by the collaboration between ORPS staff, Ulster County RPT staff and Ulster County assessors.

Using the results of the pilot project conducted in Ulster County Bruce reviewed real estate values during various real estate cycles. He then explained the importance market analysis process and valuation analysis. Valuation analysis consists of the following steps:

Success was closely tied to the cooperation and participation of the assessors in the county and the county Real Property Tax Director. 

Tim Maher reported that the RPTAC Equalization Project Team met on February 16. Tim said the team reviewed the 2005 pre-decisional collaboration (PDC) process and the schedule that was developed last summer. The members of team thought the PDC process for 2005 was better than the process for 2004 but thought we could make improvements for 2006 PDC. The team developed a draft schedule for 2006 PDC and shared the draft with the RPTAC members. Tim also reported that the team is going to develop a PDC guidebook. The plan is to have the guidebook available by August. There will also be a course on PDC offered at the Assessor's Association conference in September.

2005 RPTAC Action Item #1:Equalization Project Team will create a PDC Guidebook (non-technical) by July.

2005 RPTAC Action Item #2: Project Team will develop a PDC training course. The course will be ready for the fall Assessor's Association conference.

2nd Day

The group discussed the impact of the change in Valuation Date from January 1st to July 1st. The following action items resulted from the discussion:

2005 RPTAC Action Item #3: County Directors will notify their members about the change in Valuation Date in regards to BAR training via Listserv.

2005 RPTAC Action Item #4: ORPS will edit the BAR booklet to reflect the valuation date change and determine how the change will be reflected in the BAR training video produced by ORPS. ORPS will send a letter to SCAR officials.

2005 RPTAC Action Item #5: ORPS PIO Office will do the following to communicate the change in valuation date

 

Tom Rutnik presented the results of the E-Government survey conducted during January and February. The purpose of the survey was to determine to capacity of local officials to conduct E-Government and also to measure use and satisfaction of the ORPS web site. The survey was sent to assessors via the County Director offices. Tabulated county results were sent to Jay Franklin (Tompkins County) who them tabulated statewide results. The paper surveys were grouped and sent to Tom Rutnik by County Directors.

Survey Participation:

RPTAC members felt that they wanted the survey participation to be higher before conclusions can made from the survey results.

The group decided that County Directors would follow-up with non-participating counties and municipalities via the County Director regional coordinators. The deadline for participation was extended to April 29th.

2005 RPTAC Action Item #6: RPTAC E-Government Survey Follow-up: County Directors will follow-up with non-participating counties and municipalities via the County Director regional coordinators. The deadline for participation was extended to April 29th.

 

Tim Maher reported that the Sales Processing Team met on March 14th and developed a proposed team charter. Tim shared the proposed charter with RPTAC. The purpose of the team is to improve the processing of sales data so that the process is more efficient and the sales and inventory data available to assessors and ORPS is accurate and timely.

The team deliverables are verbal and/or written reports to RPTAC concerning issues discussed and progress made on a quarterly basis. A written report every December on the issues discussed, the progress made and recommendations for system improvements.

With minor changes the charter was approved by RPTAC members.

Team members.

The group was asked to share ideas for modernizing disclosure and impact notices. It was noted that the annual assessment process has evolved, but the statutes have not. There does not seem to be a consensus as to what methods of communication are best to handle this issue.

A sub-group "Notices to Taxpayers Team" was formed to further explore the topic. See the action item below for details.

2005 RPTAC Action Item #7: Notices to Taxpayers Team formed. The team will consist of 4 members from each group, 50% in Annual Assessment program. Team member names should be sent by association heads to Tom Rutnik by April 1st. The first team meeting will be held in Syracuse. The team needs to draft a proposal by the September RPTAC meeting.  

 

Jeff Bartholomew reported that the Training Governance group had met in January 2005 and earlier in the week. Jeff reviewed the plan for upcoming course review and development through 2007. He commented that each of the sub-groups formed to review course content have done a great job. The data collection sub-group ran into issues that needed to be resolved by the Training Governance Group.

It was noted that class participation for online courses has increased now that people can take them in their home region.

A question was raised over the timing of Assessment Administration (online) course scheduled for March (a busy time for assessment officials). Jeff responded that this course was added due to a high level of interest in the course. Also, it was noted that course instructors can get help, if needed, to answer questions that arise during a course.  

Background: The processes involved in the maintenance of Bank Codes have been identified as an area in need of improvement. This issue was identified during the Communication Issues (Information Sharing) topic first discussed at the June 2004 RPTAC meeting and discussed in greater depth at the December 2004 RPTAC meeting. A group was formed with representatives from the following groups: Assessors, County Directors, Tax Service Organizations and Tax Receivers/Collectors, to study the processes and how they might be improved.

The meeting was held at the February AOT conference in NYC. The group concluded:

The following questions were raised:

The majority of both Assessors and County Directors do not want the responsibility of maintaining the bank codes, and certainly want the paper driven process to be automated.

Kathy Bishop from the Tax Service Organization First American joined the meeting via teleconference. Due to technical difficulties, Betty Greene (Tax Receiver, Town of Newburgh) was unable to join the meeting via teleconference.

RPTAC members concluded that the group should reconvene to try and set standards for an electronic 953 form. Also, Tax Service Organization (TSO) representatives were going to try to reach out to the other TSO's that do business in NYS so that they could speak with a unified voice

 

Tom Rutnik gave a report on the results of the recent processing cycle for the STAR enhanced Income Verification application. The results from Tax & Finance have been processed and formulated into reports that can be accessed from the secure "Assessment Community" section of the ORPS web site.

Social Security Matching Results:

Some assessors noted that this represented a decrease in the exemption processing workload. Others would like to see the income amount back from Tax & Finance to help determine the exemption most beneficial to the senior citizen.

Some concern was expressed over the lack of ability to research the "Undetermined" category. Rick Hubner noted that he had met with Tax & Finance and found that there are a variety of reasons why certain applications fall into the "Undetermined" category. Also, it was noted that the e-STAR IVP application and RPS V4 to not interface.

2005 RPTAC Action Item #8: ORPS LIS/E-Government Unit will prepare an analysis to compare the results of the Social Security matching for the two completed cycles and share with RPTAC members.

STAR Income Verification Program:
A letter from the Onondaga County Assessors Association was circulated for discussion. The letter outlines a number of concerns about the program. 

Tim Maher noted that a group will be meeting next month to discuss the postcard. Any comments concerning the postcard should be sent to Tim Maher.

The group reviewed the active RPTAC sponsored sub-committees. The active teams include: Equalization Project Team, Valuation Issues, formed Sales Processing Team and the soon to be formed Disclosure/Impact Notice Team. Also, it was noted that the Property Class Code Team had recently been asked to clarify an issue. Most RPTAC members were not aware that the Property Class Code Team was still active. A discussion on RPTAC sub-team communication will be added to the June meeting agenda.

Members would like a list of all active and dormant RPTAC sponsored sub-committees. This will be a topic at the June RPTAC meeting. Teams should report back to RPTAC at least on an annual basis.

The Valuation Issues Team has a meeting scheduled for April 13th. The agenda topics include a review of the team charter and membership. Also, the team will review the Ulster County Commercial Valuation Pilot results. RPTAC has no issues before this team at this time.

Sub-committee Membership:
RPTAC asked the Equalization Project Team to review their charter and review their membership guidelines. Tim said the team will discuss these issues at their meeting on April 13. The team will update RPTAC after the team meetings.

2005 RPTAC Action Item #9: Equalization Project Team will review charter and determine membership limits at next team meeting.

2005 RPTAC Action Item #10: The RPTAC facilitator will include a list of active and standing RPTAC sub-teams and members will be distributed with RPTAC meeting agendas.

 2005 RPTAC Meeting Schedule
June 22 & 23 (Wednesday & Thursday, Location: 16 Sheridan Avenue, Albany NY)
September 22 & 23 (Thursday & Friday)
December 8 & 9 (Thursday & Friday)

Updated: