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REAL PROPERTY TAX ADMINISTRATION

MINUTES
Thursday –March 26, 2009 (1:00pm – 4:30pm)
Friday – March 27, 2009 (8:30am- 11:50pm)

Facilitator: Alan Kresge
Recorder: Geoff Gloak and Bonnie Brechbill

Day 1 - Thursday, March 26, 2009
Assessors: Timothy Sheares, Tom Frey, Peggy Jenkins, Curtis Schoeberl, Larry Quinn, Sue Otis
County Directors: David Jackson, John McCarey, Robin Johnson, Tim Murphy, Laura VanValkenburg, Mike Swan
ORPS: Vic Mallison, Jim O'Keeffe, Richard Harris, Dave Williams, Tim Maher, Tom Bellard, George Herren, Geoff Gloak

Get Organized: Alan Kresge 

    1. Budget Update – ORPS Executive Deputy Director Vic Mallison reported that ORPS has been asked to reduce its budget by 10% for fiscal year 2009-10. Staff is expected to decrease through attrition and hosting. Further declines in state revenues, as have been announced by Governor Paterson, will likely have additional impacts on the agency. However, it is uncertain what those changes will be until further notice is received from the Governor's Division of the Budget. 

Vic also discussed the Emergency Rules changes regarding reimbursement for assessment community training expenses. Those Rules were discussed at the March 26 Meeting of the State Board of Real Property Services. The Board asked for additional information, and agency staff will be working with the Assessors' Association and County Directors' Association in anticipation of continuing the discussion at the May 5 Board Meeting. 

    1. Legislative Update – Joe Gerberg (Legal) and Paul Miller (Research) presented the legislative update to the group. Joe and Paul referred to the following handout: 2009 RPT Related Bills of Interest –Passed One House, Nearing Passage, New Bills of interest and Other Bills of Interest. Assorted bills in those handouts were discussed.

  

    1. Bob Gloudeman's Study. COD Standards – ORPS Research Director James Dunne reported that, at the request of ORPS, nationally renowned expert Bob Gloudeman prepared a report recommending Coefficient of Dispersion (COD) standards for New York State. CODs are statistical measures commonly used to measure assessment equity. RPTAC discussed the report and the general topic of CODs. ORPS has not changed its COD guidelines since 1993 and has not yet determined whether the guidelines will change as a result of the report.  

Action Item #23: Send list to RPTAC containing the difficulty points assigned to each municipality. (Jim Dunne)

    1. Equalization Project Team. Assessment Equalization Statistics (results of Equalization Subcom. Analysis, action item #18.) – Tim Maher, ORPS Director of Equalization and Central Services Division.

      At its January meeting, RPTAC asked the Equalization Subcommittee to consider the issue that ORPS only publishes CODs for assessing units that have not conducted reassessments. After discussing the proposal, the Subcommittee recommended that ORPS publish residential CODs for all assessing units and publish overall CODs where ORPS has the data. The agency has agreed and will do so beginning with the 2009 assessment roll. Because they are calculated based on different data, the residential CODs will be published in a separate listing.

The Subcommittee also discussed possible changes to the level of assessment/equalization rate process, as well as trending for commercial and vacant/farm property classes. Those topics will continue to be discussed by the Subcommittee with more details provided at future RPTAC meetings.

Dave Jackson asked why there are two sets of standards.
Dave Williams said that we do not do appraisals in places that are doing reassessments; we can't afford to do it.
Richard Harris said that we're only half as big as we were when we did the whole state.
Tim Maher said that we are trying to make an equalization rate.
Jim Dunne said that we calculate a COD and other statistics.
Tom Frey asked, “What about a place like Amherst, which has an eq rate of 92?”
Jim Dunne said we should be auditing reassessments.
Sue Otis said it happens every day that assessors take their numbers and apply them across the board. “This is not a quality job,” she said.
Dave Williams said that trending is appropriate only under certain conditions. They deny towns that have not followed their six-year plan.
Laura Van Valkenburg asked if the state does the same evaluation on annual updates as they do on revaluations.
Dave Williams said no, they do not.
Laura Van Valkenburg said that errors remain.

Action Item #18 ORPS will publish equalization statistics for reassessments and non-reassessments.

Tim Maher said that the good news is that the next CODs will be for the residential class. He also reported that the 2009 PDC is on schedule. The tentative rolls were out by March 1. Tim mentioned the new tolerances for the 2010 equalization rate cycle—possibly assessors will be able to claim only certain ones; 90, 95 and 100 being acceptable LOAs.
The team will discuss this more at their next meeting. They will also discuss how to improve the RAR process for next year. 

    1. Uniform Assessment Code

      Larry Quinn said that the goal is to come up with guidelines; nothing is carved in stone. This is a living document, and should be updated as assessment evolves. David Jackson said that the document makes

suggestions

      as to what people should do, what professionals think is the model. “This is what we want assessors to aspire to,” he said. “These are not local government decisions, but what professionals see should be done.”

      Larry Quinn said that some municipalities simply can't do these things.

      Curt Schoeberl said as these standards are decided there's a good chance this document will grow legs, and there's a risk of non-professionals mandating these things and not providing the necessary tools to assessors to help them meet the standards. “This document is a good first step,” he added. “We're going from nothing. It is a living document, and it should be updated annually. It will make the assessment process better and more transparent. But politicians could use this as a weapon.”

      Dave Jackson said his issue is only with some of the language in the document, and that he wants to emphasize some things.

      Tim Sheares said that what we have laid out here is what we can do. Remove “shall” several places. Things are open for discussion.

      Dave Jackson wants to go through the document so we know we're clear.

      John McCarey said that the code is too specific and in-depth to start with. We need to go through and see what we want to add.

      Tom Frey asked the ORPS people what they think.

      Jim O'Keeffe said that we have to play it out, to see where the group thinks it's going.

      Tim Maher asked if we expect towns to adopt the document we come up with.

      Paul Miller said that current bill 5254 directs the board to promote the Uniform Assessment Code. Counties may opt to enforce it.

      Sue Otis said that once the document is together and we try to attain it, then it might be adopted as legislation. What is the tone of the document? Mandatory, or suggesting?

      Dave Jackson said that the document will be what this professional body feels is appropriate. The IAAO standards are the ideal. The square footage of the assessor's office is stipulated. They do not say “shall.”

      Sue Otis said there has to be a way to phrase things without scaring people off with “you shall, you will.” We need to make it less daunting to local government officials.

      Dave Jackson asked the group if it is their goal to make the Uniform Assessment Code a teaching document.

      Curt Schoeberl said that making it informational is better.

      Tom Frey will update the document electronically.

      A lengthy discussion followed on specific wording in the Uniform Assessment Code

Action Item # 24 Report to ORPS areas where locals are not supported by the courts. (Nassau) Vic Mallison

First Day Wrap-Up. Alan Kresge reviewed the action items.

Adjournment at 4:50 pm.    

Day 2 - Friday, March 27, 2009

Assessors: Timothy Sheares, Tom Frey, Peggy Jenkins, Curtis Schoeberl, Sue Otis, Larry Quinn


County Directors: David Jackson, John McCarey, Robin Johnson, Tim Murphy, Laura VanValkenburg, Mike Swan
ORPS: Jim O'Keeffe, Richard Harris, Dave Williams, Tim Maher, Don Card, Geoff Gloak

Facilitator: Alan Kresge
Recorder: Bonnie Brechbill

Get Organized
Alan Kresge reviewed the agenda; there were no changes or additions. 

    1. Uniform Assessment Code—the group picked up the discussion from yesterday. Tim Sheares said that the assessors plan to have something on the cycle prepared for the June meeting. 

Action Item #19 Annual Assessment Cycle, agreement from Assessors (Tim Sheares)

Mike Swan said that the UAC document is a public relations tool.
Tom Frey said that there should be a public relations program describing reassessment. Assessors who are trying to do a reassessment don't need questions about why some other town is doing things this way.
Mike Swan said that the less open you are, the more they think you are hiding something. Lay out a public relations outline—tell them you are doing your sales analysis in the summer, your data collection in the fall, etc., so that people get an idea for the flow.
Sue Otis said to eliminate the word “plan.” Simply outline what a revaluation entails. Just do general PR. Do the specifics in workshops for taxpayers.
David Jackson led a discussion on the technology section of the UAC.
Sue Otis does not think that the type of software used should be dictated. The group wants to add that the town needs to provide the assessor with Internet access and the technology necessary for his/her job.
Photography section—David Jackson wants to reference street-level photography somewhere.
A lengthy discussion on the remainder of the UAC followed.
After much discussion, the group could not come to a consensus on page 6, “Suggested Action.”

David Jackson said that the preliminary Final Draft of the UAC is completed.

Action Item # 26 Send revised UAC back to group via email, through Alan Kresge. (Tom Frey) 

  1. Sub-Group Activity Updates  
      1. Valuation Issues Team (Steve Beals) His team is still working on revising the assessor's manual, Volume 6. They recently finished the commercial section. They are on track to complete the project by summer 2010. David Hastings was not in attendance to report to the group.
        Tom Frey asked that when they get to the Forestry section of Volume 6 and have a difference of opinion on correct valuation methods for forestry, that Dave Briggs be brought in to the discussion.
        Steve Beals passed out a handout, Parcel Size Matters. He said that the issue had been brought up that land sizes reported to taxpayers are erroneous, especially on parcels less than one acre and with irregular dimensions. Tax maps have to include frontage, and this is provided to the assessors. It is a common practice to report “frontage by longest depth” on parcels smaller greater than 1 acre. The team recommends that calculated acreage be provided for all parcels, and be put on all parcel record cards in place of the frontage and depth. The tax maps will not be changed.
        Curt Schoeberl is afraid that surveys will differ, because of the issue of measuring to the middle of the road.
        Steve Beals said he will bring that back to his team.
        The group agreed to put Steve's report into the Property Tax Monitor. Richard Harris asked if putting it in the Tax Monitor means that we are making a recommendation.
        Steve Beals said that this is not really a rules change, and we are not making this a requirement. The report was written assuming that the data exists. It is not a universal recommendation.
        Steve Beals clarified that these numbers would be included in the data the tax mappers give the assessors.
        Mike Swan said that someone would have to put all this data into V 4.
        Dave Williams suggested that Steve Beals redraft this. Beals said he would investigate this and get back to the group before the next meeting, when the discussion will be reopened.

        Action Item # 27 Investigate to see if “Parcel Size Matters” document needs to be redrafted. Redraft if necessary. (Steve Beals) 

      2. Sales Processing Team, Automated 5217 Project. Tim Maher handed out “RPTAC Sales Processing Team,” and reported that the team met in Syracuse March 4.
        The automated 5217 is bar coded, and the counties can scan it into their databases. It can then be shared with ORPS, and be used to update the RPS files.
        Laura Van Valkenburg asked that if she finds a mistake, reruns the form and creates a new barcode, how do you know how many incorrect ones are out there floating around?
        Tim Maher said that whatever a county clerk scans is the official one. The county can change it, and then send to the assessor and the state.
        The swis code and the SBL are in the original bar code. The book and page numbers are not; the county adds these. Extract same as sales net.
        Tom Frey asked how the assessor gets it onto his file, and what happens when it's a split?
        Tom Rutnick said that the assessor gets a chance to correct the information before it goes in. It can go into the salesnet_in table. It will not create the sales record until the assessor tells it to. He said that a split is added either by hand or by pulling data over, he's not sure.
        Curt Schoeberl asked if this is a time-saver. Does it provide us with the ability to change valuation data? The data is 18 months old.
        Tim Maher said that this automation is still a few years down the road. Everyone will have to be on it, and we will be doing corrections quickly. Laura Van Valkenburg said that she is not notified of a new split number until months after the 5217 crosses her desk.
        Several people said that that won't change with the new system.
        Tim Maher said that this automation is being tested in Dutchess County and he will be getting feedback from them. He said he hopes to expand its use.

        Action Item #28 Identify the number of parcels the proposed automated 5217 process allows you to report and send to group (Tim Maher). 

      3. Property Class Codes Dave Shanley reported that two new assessors have joined this team. At the September RPTAC meeting, Dave had talked about the invalid codes. In mid-January, he sent out a list to the assessment community explaining what his team wanted to do about the codes. He got no feedback. At the end of February he sent out a voluntary update that assessors could use to make the invalid codes valid. In a month or so, this will be in a Web patch, and it will happen to those who did not voluntarily update. It's not a controversial thing, Dave said. He has also received requests for two new property class codes, one for medium retail outlets of 7,500 to 25,000 square feet, which the team will recommend for, and one for a new phenomenon—two or more health or assisted living facilities in one complex. The team is going back and forth on that one. A number of assessors have requested it. The team is also considering a 106 code, for farm land with insignificant farm improvements, and will soon be having a meeting to explore this.

         

      4. Public Education Geoff Gloak handed out “Questions for Public Education Survey.” He reported that his team put together this online survey, and it will be going out soon to the assessors and county directors for feedback about public education.
        Tom Frey asked for two weeks to review this document and to get back to Geoff.

    Action Item #29 Send comments to Geoff Gloak regarding the on-line survey for the Public Education Sub-group within two weeks.

    Action Item #30 Send out on-line survey for Public Education Sub-group. (Geoff Gloak)  

  2. Training Governance Jim O'Keeffe reported that his team met March 9 and agreed on a charter revision. It was completed, Lee Kyriacou has it, and it will go out to the membership when he's completed.

     

  3. Governance—Fee Structure Tim Maher reported that the Department of Budget had asked ORPS to identify where their money is spent, and we found that $7 million is spent on the RPS system. One-third of that cost is supposed to be paid by the local municipalities, and two-thirds by the state. “The locals are not paying one-third,” Tim said. “The majority of our group proposed a 25 percent increase in the fee, but the DOB said not to make this recommendation, that this is not a good time to increase fees to local governments.
    Tim also reported that his team will meet about V5, support, etc. At their late-April meeting they will look at long-term RPS use, and also the fees for 2010. Fiscal 2009 fees will be the same as last year. Fiscal 2010, he is not sure yet.    

Meeting Wrap-Up--Alan Kresge went through the Action Items.

Topics for next meeting include:

  • UAC guidelines
  • COD Standards
  • Sub-group reports
  • Legislative Report
  • Budget Report

The minutes will be sent out to the RPTAC membership within two weeks.

Dates for next RPTAC meeting:

June 4 and 5, at the Comfort Inn, Route 9W, Glenmont.

Adjournment at 12:10 pm

Updated: