Letter: Assessment issue raises many concerns

Posted 2/27/20

To the editor:

To me, if the items reported in the Feb. 19 article in the Times regarding the town council pushing for annual assessments are true, we have the perfect outline for a Monty Python …

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Letter: Assessment issue raises many concerns

Posted

To the editor:

To me, if the items reported in the Feb. 19 article in the Times regarding the town council pushing for annual assessments are true, we have the perfect outline for a Monty Python comedy sketch.

Was there really a 5 – 0 vote on a resolution whose author is unknown?

The reductio ad absurdum on Mr. Boyajian’s math and assumption that $4,000,000 in taxes are not being collected seems to be that the best way to make sure everyone is paying their fair share would be to go to a daily, not annual, revaluation process.

The “Bravo” from councilor Weymouth as to Mr. Boyajian’s comment asking the general assembly to fix the problem sent chills down my spine. Am I the only one who remembers the town council of which Ms. Weymouth was a member that steadfastly refused to accept objective data from numerous experts in the debacle that was the 2008 revaluation? Remember the lawsuit the town lost (and its cost to taxpayers)? Remember the millions of dollars in abatements? Remember a court ordered re-do of the revaluation?

This subject raises concerns:

1. Why is Barrington having so much trouble with assessed values? I am unaware of similar problems in any of our 38 sister municipalities.

2. Am I the only one who thinks the council views property values going only one way; up? While that has proven true over the long term there have been and will be, downturns in the market. (A good argument for not shortening assessment periods.)

3. Asking the general assembly to intervene could result in the necessity to re-write the statutes regarding property taxation. What odds do you give the wishes of one to succeed against those of 38 others?

Most valuation experts agree that when a revaluation is done there is only one property that is assessed at its precise market value. There is a huge cluster of values around the one precise value but only one is exact. That means every taxpayer, but one is either underpaying or overpaying taxes relative to the value of their property. Is a howitzer being employed to kill a mouse?

The conclusion I get from reading the article is that this is a poorly disguised attempt to legitimize and reinstate the assessor’s questionable “reassessment by sale” policy. The council might do well to meet with the Board of Assessment Review and understand why they overturned the “sales price” assessments in January.

Robert A. Ryan

Barrington

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.