letter to the editor

With wave of tax assessment revaluations, are we getting a fair deal?

Wed, 03/15/2023 - 1:30pm
Recently the assessors for Rockland, Camden and Rockport proposed revaluations for all three towns. This is despite the fact that Camden, for example, has had “statistical updates” by KRT Appraisal in 2017, 2019, and just last year, in 2022.  
Rockport had its last statistical update by KRT Appraisal April 1, 2022 (yes, April Fool’s Day).
A statistical update is an analysis of sales without site visits. I would suggest that since the law says the assessments should be based on the “just” or fair market value of the properties, absent serious reconstruction (which the towns would know through permits and inspections) statistical updates referencing selling prices are more appropriate than inspecting homes.
I further am concerned that the same firm, KRT Appraisal, is doing the revaluation.
Is Camden paying KRT $220,000 to check its own work? Potential conflicts of interest can contaminate this process. What incentive do appraisal companies (or tax assessors) have to make appropriate corrections?
Do they tell the taxpayers, “Hey, we were wrong on the last three valuations we performed, and we are going to correct it now?”
I think a rubber stamp is more likely.
If the issue was critical, would you ask an electrician to inspect his/her own work, year after year? How about four times in the last six years?
Since selling price should be the key to just valuation, a statistical update sounds more both more effective and cost-efficient. If we need a full revaluation, let’s not throw our taxes away. We should insist on an independent appraisal.  
To encourage accuracy and an open mind, I think that the same firm should be barred from doing successive assessments. We are paying for an independent review of prior work, and that is what we should receive.

Jonathan Beitler lives in Camden