The House Appropriations Committee met to review H.480 on Wednesday. The bill proposes to remove municipalities from the property reappraisal process and require instead that the Division of Property Valuation and Review within the Department of Taxes conduct full and statistical reappraisals on behalf of all municipalities in the State.
A written plan and progress report would also be required from the Department of Taxes on this new statewide system of reappraisals. Recommendations for new categories of grand list properties (currently just homestead or non-homestead) are also requested.
Chairwoman Lanpher mentioned some previous discomfort with the bill, but recently she had become “more comfortable with this.” She did not state the reasons for discomfort or the recent change of heart.
Legislative Counsel noted that the major takeaway here is that towns will have all control over the appraisals taken away over a period of time. The Property Valuation & Review Division (PVR) of Department of Taxes ultimately become responsible for this process over two-year period.
The bill does also repeal the town triggered Common Level of Appraisal (CLA) over time and defers the implementation of a new trigger to PVR. The CLA will still be used to keep local tax rates in line, but will no longer serve as a trigger for municipalities to start a re-appraisal.
Harrison wondered if this would affect this year’s property tax bills. Legislative Counsel thought that Towns not already in the re-appraisal process will not be required to do so once this went into effect.
Representative Dickinson asked if the CLA would still trigger the state re-appraisal process. Legislative Counsel noted that under the new system there is a full reappraisal at intervals. The schedule contemplated in the bill would be every six years after the transition.
Representative Page asked about how many more Tax Department personnel would be required and also questioned the $100K annual allocation in the bill for educational purposes. The answer to these questions was that it was unclear. There were also questions about a position funded at the Vermont League of Cities and Towns (VLCT). This was confusing to the Committee.
Representative Scheu stated municipalities find this work cumbersome and difficult that VLCT would likely be supportive (they are not).
Lanpher gave noted that this was a Ways & Means Committee bill and they believed the FY2024 budget impact was only $50K because all other costs are revenue neutral. It received a unanimous vote on that committee, which Lanpher said is “giving me comfort here.”
Harrison flagged that they all just received an email saying the VLCT opposes the main section of the bill dealing with the statewide reappraisal system. The letter stated that “H.480 goes way beyond our original suggestion (for a set schedule of reappraisals) and way beyond the comfort level of local governments. It takes over the appraisal system, which has always been a local responsibility, and does so before any of the studies or recommendations called for in Section 8 of the bill are even commenced.”