minutes for June 20 - 21 meeting
Real Property Tax Administration Committee
Minutes: June 20-21, 2013
Location: Colonie (Albany County)
- Cathy Conklin
- Patrick Duffy
- Randy Holcomb
- Paul Smith
- Denise Trudell
- Todd Wiley
- Dawn Allen
- Jay Franklin
- Steve Harris
- John McCarey
- Tim Murphy
- Paul Warneck
- Teresa Frank
- Joe Gerberg
- Pat Holland
- Tim Maher
- Susan Savage
Facilitator: Alan Kresge
Also in attendance: Tammy Cumo
Minutes of the previous meeting were approved.
Susan Savage updated the committee on ORPTS matters. She explained that ORPTS is focused on the new STAR Registration process and that the Commissioner is committed to getting RPS V5 started soon.
The Central Region Office has completed its move into the new building with other DTF staff.
Paul Miller updated the committee on various pieces of real property tax related legislation, including the agricultural assessment cap, land banks, and additional local options for veterans organizations and green buildings (see handout).
Jay Franklin questioned whether the newly passed agricultural assessment cap legislation would apply to the 2013 assessment rolls. Dawn Allen stated that the Farm Bureau is saying that it will not apply until 2014. Joe Gerberg stated that the actual law language will have to be examined for intent. Paul Warneck raised the issue of submitting comments from the Assessors Association concerning the new legislation. Assessors agreed that comments should be sent
Todd Wiley stated that the Assessors and County Directors would like to improve their ability to get timely legal advice and Opinions of Counsel. The current system involves contacting the CRM or municipal attorney. If no answer can be provided by the CRM the question should go to the Regional Manager. If the Regional Manager cannot provide an answer they should go to legal. He advised that this system leads to unnecessary delays. He proposed a new system in which there would be created a new liaison position for Assessors and Directors. This person would directly contact ORPTS Counsel for legal questions from Assessors and County Directors.
There was disagreement over the effectiveness of such a liaison position. Joe Gerberg responded that CRMs should be contacting ORPTS Counsel if they are unable to provide an answer directly.
Paul Warneck suggested that there should be FAQ type web pages available containing previously answered issues so that the knowledge could be shared. Teresa Frank responded that CRMs already have an Access database containing previously answered questions.
There was a discussion of how best to share legal advice. Joe Gerberg will explore options for sharing legal advice and will define the process for requests. (Action Item #11)
Tim presented the new online system for taxpayers to register with DTF for Basic STAR (see handout).
Basic STAR recipients on the 2013 roll will receive mail from DTF informing them of the process to go online and register. The mailing will begin August and end in September. Mailings will begin in the West and move east across the State. Those without internet access will be directed to call ORPTS. A newly created call center will have staff to collect information and perform the registration for the caller. Taxpayers will have many opportunities to register before losing their Basic STAR exemption. Susan explained that DTF plans for a large media blitz.
Dawn Allen raised the issue of new applications that have already been filed for 2014. Tim responded that a process for new applicants is being developed.
Paul Warneck asked how corrections would be handled. Tim replied that corrections will be made to the tentative roll or through the correction of errors process. He explained that the Advisory Group will be meeting to discuss appeals and corrections errors.
Assessors raised the issue of possibly being overwhelmed with phone calls and questions. Tim explained that all communications would direct taxpayers to contact ORPTS with questions. FAQs will be developed to explain common questions and deal with issues such as trusts and life estates. It was asked if a notice could be placed in tax bills. Tammy Cumo explained that there are restrictions on what materials can be included with tax bills.
Paul Warneck asked what to do if a BAR reinstates an exemption that was removed for failing to register. Joe Gerberg responded that the law specifically states that a BAR cannot restore the exemption removal in a registration case. Paul suggested that a new slide be created for the BAR training presentation to deal with this issue.
Pat Holland explained the Tax Liability STAR Offset program. Taxpayers who have more than $4500 in State tax obligations outstanding will have their STAR exemptions removed. Taxpayers can pay off the debt or initiate and maintain a payment plan to avoid exemption removal. They cannot simply pay a portion of their debt to get below the $4500 threshold. Those affected by this have received several notifications of their obligation and the impending consequence of the loss of the STAR Exemption.
The lists for removal were posted to Assessment Community on June 14. If taxpayers satisfy their obligation after the May 31 deadline, ORPTS will inform the Assessor to restore the exemption.
Randy Holcomb raised the issue that if an RPS user is not at version 15.25, the removals must be redone after the update. Pat Holland will explore the issue and report back on what patch users must have RPS. (Action Item #12)
Todd Wiley asked what happens next year. Pat stated that ORPTS will notify Assessors if a taxpayer reaches a zero balance or enters into a payment plan.
RPS V5- The Next Generation
Pat Holland explained that all changes will be centralized and that all users will be on one version.
Assessors and County Directors had concerns and suggestions for the next version of RPS. The question was raised over whether V5 would be a State or County centralized system. There are concerns that a State system would be subject to outages and too much State control. Susan Savage replied that the decision has not yet been made and that internal discussions are ongoing. Jay Franklin asked if DTF or Governance would be making the decision. Susan replied that it will be DTF in consultation with Governance.
Many suggestions for features and abilities were made. Susan asked that a list be compiled and submitted to herself, Tim Maher, and Pat Holland. She asked that the list be submitted by the end of June.
Jay Franklin raided the issue that the mobile home/co-op spreadsheet columns are not accepting alphanumeric characters. Pat Holland will look into the issue and have it corrected. (Action Item #13)
Information on contacts for agricultural issues was shared. Zachary Kaiser in Albany is responsible for agricultural issues with support from Bob Wright in Batavia. Zach's contact email is email@example.com
Denise Trudell asked that an item concerning the City of Lockport be added to the agenda for the day. The committee agreed.
5217 Bar Code Project
Pat Holland reported that, as of the end of June, twenty seven counties will be accepting the new RP-5217-pdf form. Ten more counties will be doing so by the end of July. Would like to see all counties accepting the form by the end of the year.
Paul Warneck suggested that ORPTS should ensure that vendors are able to hook into the new form to enable pre-fill projects. Pat replied that there are licensing and other issues that must be worked through at DTF. Pat will work toward getting vendors (such as SDG) access to enabling pre-fill abilities. (Action Item #14)
Jay Franklin asked if the new form can be combined with the TP-584. It was stated that there are social security Number security issues with this, but there is work going forward toward combining the forms.
Chenango County is having issues with SalesNet backup and is unable to get an IT contact for assistance. A contact will be provided for this issue. (Action Item #15)
Sub-Group Activity Updates
- Tony Ilacqua reported that the draft Valuation Manual has been completed and is ready for review. CDs containing the manual will be distributed to RPTAC members
- Pat Duffy suggested combining the Valuation Issues and Property Class Code sub groups because their subject matter is so closely related. The Committee agreed and the two groups will be combined. (Action Item #16)
- Pat Holland reported that certiorari impact is quantity level change. Jay Franklin asked that examples be provided. Pat will provide examples. (Action Item #17)
City of Lockport
Denise Trudell raised the issue that the City of Lockport has contracted for assessment services and that the person appointed as Assessor is merely an employee of that company. She asked what can be done in this situation. Joe Gerberg responded that ORPTS only role in appointments is to review qualifications. Someone with standing, such as a citizen affected by the tax roll resulting from theses assessments, would have to pursue a challenge to the situation.
October 24 at 10:00 a.m. in Syracuse
- RPS V5
- STAR Registration