Town of Pittsford Select Board Meeting
Thomas “Hank” Pelkey, Chairman opened the meeting at 6:30 p.m. Select Board members present were: Thomas “Hank” Pelkey, Allen Hitchcock, Joseph Gagnon, and Thomas Hooker. David Markowski was absent. Also present were Michael Balch, Linda Drummond, Listers John Eugair, Nancy Gaudreau, and Barbara Pierce.
Review Listers’ Budget
H.Pelkey gave some background: The 2005 Listers’ budget was $3,000 for expenses and $12,000 for Listers’ services. For a couple of years the Select Board agreed to increase the Listers’ budget due to the upcoming reappraisal. The Listers’ budget FY2008 is a 200% increase over the budget FY2005. The Listers’ budgeted expenses are over a 400% increase. The Select Board directed the Town Manager to tell all the department heads, that due to the increase of everyone’s property taxes this year that the Board was going to hold the line on the budget FY2008. The Listers’ budget that was submitted had a $12000 increase which surprised the Board as they were led to believe that there would be a substantial decrease in Listers’ expenses and services after the reappraisal. The Board does not see a reduction in the Listers’ budget. The Listers have stated at previous meetings that there would be a substantial reduction in time needed due to new equipment and software after the reappraisal was complete. The reappraisal is now complete. N. Gaudreau again repeated previous statements that the Listers did not say the savings would occur this year.
J. Eugair replied that there is not an increase over last year’s budget. The $12000 is not an increase but the amount for the reappraisal expenses. With the new system, every year is a reappraisal. The Listers will be reviewing 1100 properties this year. There are errors that need to be corrected. There are mass changes with mobile homes, multi-family homes, and neighborhood designations.
If the Board prefers that the Listers do not do this updating, then the Listers feel the Town may be up for reappraisal within 3 years which means $150,000 to $200,000 for an outside firm to do another Town reappraisal.
The Listers are trying to be proactive and to eliminate that situation. The previous year’s budget increase was $600. The expenses are contracted expenses which are for the software and maintenance fees every year which were in the software contract.
H. Pelkey finds it hard to believe that 1100 properties out of the 1400 properties that just went through a reappraisal need to be reviewed. J. Eugair asked if the Board was telling the Listers how to do their job.
H. Pelkey asked if it sounds incredible to the him, then how will it sound to all the Town taxpayers.
B. Pierce stated that when she was working for the Listers in 1997, there were gross errors on the 1989 appraisal values and assessments. These properties were not reviewed then but would be caught at the next reappraisal. What the Listers’ office is trying to maintain is uniform equity for all the parcels. The Listers state that there are errors in data entry and inconsistencies in the 2005/2006 reappraisal. H. Pelkey asked if there was quality control in place during the 2005-2006 reappraisal.
J. Gagnon asked shouldn’t the new reappraisal have the properties up to date with the correct values and information. J. Eugair stated that is not what happened. H. Pelkey stated that the Board was told by the Listers that there was quality control in place for the reappraisal and that there wouldn’t be problems. The Town will be spending a lot of money to correct problems from the new reappraisal. J. Eugair asked what the Board wants. J. Eugair stated that the Listers submitted a budget that they feel that they can do the job for the Town. H. Pelkey stated that the Board understood that additional money was needed for the reappraisal and that the Board approved additional funds with the understanding that once the reappraisal was complete there would be a substantial decrease in Listers’ expenses and services. Now there is an increase and H. Pelkey questions how the Board can present the $12000 budget increase to the taxpayers after the Town has just spent $130000 on the reappraisal. The Listers responded that they want to do rolling reappraisals which means they would be reappraising 1/3 of the Town every year.
N. Gaudreau stated that the reappraisal was approved by the State according to their guidelines and criteria. It’s not perfect but it was done and it was acceptable. The Grand List requires constant maintenance. The new software offers many new powers of which the Listers have learned the basics, and given time, they will learn how to use more of the programs in the software package. Neighborhoods will be re-evaluated if there are sales that warrant new values. There is a tolerance within which the State does not require a reevaluation. The Listers have reviewed the Town’s reappraisal with Property Evaluation Review (PVR) and PVR stated that after a reappraisal there are tremendous amounts of adjustments that need to be made including coding errors and other discrepancies.
T. Hooker stated that the Fire Department had to hold their budget and feels the Listers need to hold their budget as well. J. Eugair said to take the $12000 out of the Listers budget as a line item.
M. Balch said there is money in the reappraisal reserve expense fund which is a dedicated fund for the next reappraisal. When the money comes in from the State each year, it goes directly into the reserve fund to be used for the next reappraisal. J. Eugair stated they put $12000 into the reappraisal expense account for sales and cost analysis to ward off a reappraisal in the next few years. H. Pelkey asked the Listers a question. Are the Listers prepared, if the Board authorizes the $12000 for reappraisal expense, to offer the taxpayers in Town a 100% guarantee that they would never have to have another reappraisal? J. Eugair stated that if the question was clarified that if the Town would never have to hire an outside reappraisal firm to do a reappraisal. The Boardwould need an ironclad guarantee and a bond to be set up to cover the cost of a reappraisal if one is ever needed. M. Balch asked for clarification. The Listers replied that sales analysis, land schedule work, technical, and cost tables will need to be readjusted in three years. The Town went 16 years before State compliance demanded this last reappraisal. J. Eugair stated there are changes ongoing all the time. There are currently 190 outstanding building permits and 107 under construction. There are other building changes that have not been permitted.
T. Hooker expressed his concern that this year the taxpayers were under the impression that their taxes would go down but the opposite happened. If the Board goes to the taxpayers asking for more money, the whole town budget may get shot down. Comparing Pittsford’s average household income to taxes, Pittsford taxes are high. There is income sensitivity in Pittsford but not everyone applies for help. More discussion was held in regards to the right thing to do for the Town.
A. Hitchcock asked if the $12000 is not included in the budget, would the budget be about the same as last year. J. Eugair stated the budget would be $600 more. H. Pelkey stated that it will go down because the Listers’ secretary line item will decrease from $13156 to $9200, based on a 16-hour work week for this position at the new hourly rate. Next a $1.00 per hour increase is figured in the Listers’ services. H. Pelkey asked how the Listers were calculating their mileage expense. N. Gaudreau replied by the odometer. She stated also the mileage was calculated from the office to the property site but historically also from the Listers’ home to the office. H. Pelkey stated that it is against IRS regulations to reimburse mileage from home to work. The Listers have done what they were told historically was done in the past. Mileage reimbursement must be calculated from the point of work to training or to the property site. The IRS standard for mileage reimbursement is from the place of employment not from home. The Listers agreed to comply with calculating the mileage from the office.
Discussion was held in regards to the direction to take. A compromise would be to do a reappraisal with a mass appraisal system in 3 or 4 years with changing the cost tables and changing the land values--a technical reappraisal. The Listers’ new system will support this technical system. There are three choices: rolling reappraisals with work being done every year, technical reappraisal every 3 to 4 years, or do a complete reappraisal in 10 to 12 years. A technical reappraisal is a complete and total reappraisal except for a physical inspection. The Listers will need an outside consultant to come in and help with cost and sales analysis. If the Town falls below the State’s guidelines, the Town would have to do a complete reappraisal. Otherwise the Town can do a technical reappraisal.
T. Hooker asked if the Listers could live with what they had last year and not one penny more.
The Listers answered yes.
The State allotment is $8.50 per parcel for the reappraisal fund with $1.50 to the Lister expenses and $7.00 to reappraisal. The State allotment is $12000 per year. J. Eugair stated the $12000 line item for reappraisal was an estimate for the amount needed to work on the adjustments to the reappraisal and continue the updating of property changes and improvements and $3000 could have been in its place.
H. Pelkey proposed that the Listers receive the same pay raise as the Select Board members which is nothing. J. Eugair stated that there is not a pay raise in the budget. The 1800 hours for the Listers at $13.00/hr equals the line item of $24,000 in the budget. J. Eugair said that the Listers can not do the job with 1800 hours for $21,600 which would be at their current rate of $12.00/hr.
J. Eugair asked if the Listers can change to receive a stipend at $2,000 per month. H. Pelkey stated that the Listers could receive a stipend but the Select Board determines the amount.
M. Balch reviewed the adjusted amounts for the Draft Listers FY2008 Budget which was a consensus of the Board: the Listers’ Secretary $9200, the expenses are at $12,500, mapping at $2600, the reappraisal is at 0, and the Listers’ services at $21600 for a total of $45900.
M. Balch made a suggestion that a course of action that the Board might take would be to ask the Listers to get the pros and cons along with a cost analysis on all three reappraisal approaches with their life cycles and outcomes. This information is needed to determine which approach is the best for the Town to take. The consensus of the Board is for the Listers to present a cost analysis for each approach as soon as possible in order for the Board to make an informed decision.
Discussion was held about BCA appeals.BCA decisions are good for one year. Adjustments must be made after the BCA decisions are final. J. Eugair suggested that the Town should ask for a reimbursement from the State on any appeals that go to court because only 1/3 of the amount in the appeal benefits the Town tax.
The Select Board thanked the Listers for coming to the meeting. J. Eugair, N. Gaudreau, and B. Pierce left at 7:50PM.
The Fire Department expenses have been donated every year to the Nickwaukett Fire Hose Co. The accountant would like a sheet stating that each member is directing the Town to pay their expenses to the Nickwaukett Fire Hose Co. Every member needs to sign the sheet. The Board approved the $13,500 to go to the Nickwaukett Fire Hose Co.
Without any further business, the meeting was adjourned at 8:00PM.
Thomas “Hank” Pelkey, Chair
Allen Hitchcock, Vice-Chair
Dave Markowski, Selectman - ABSENT
W. Joseph Gagnon, Selectman
Thomas Hooker, Selectman