Nashua seeks to set aside $1.5m to cover property tax abatementsBy KIMBERLY HOUGHTON
Union Leader Correspondent
September 19. 2018 8:51PM
NASHUA — City officials are recommending that $1.5 million in surplus be reserved to help cover costs of abatements as a result of homeowners challenging their new property values.
Following a citywide revaluation that increased residential property assessments an average of about 23 percent, aldermen are preparing for a possible influx of homeowners who disagree with the updated assessments filing for abatements.
“We have some pending now,” Mayor Jim Donchess said of abatement cases. “We expect that after revaluation there will be inevitably more.”
Donchess is proposing that $1.5 million in surplus be transferred to the city’s overlay reserve account — an account that funds successful abatement cases and the negotiation of abatement cases.
“We want to make sure that we are covered in the event of any contingency with respect to abatements,” he told the aldermanic Budget Review Committee this week.
Homeowners who have concerns about their new assessments have been attending a series of meetings being held citywide with KRT Appraisal to request reviews. If there is still a disagreement, an abatement process is available, followed by a review from the Board of Assessors and an appeal if desired.
The aldermanic committee is supporting the mayor’s proposal, which must still be considered by the full Board of Aldermen. If the $1.5 million in surplus is added to the overlay reserve account, the total funds in that account will be about $7.2 million.
If more than $7.2 million is needed to resolve the abatement cases, Donchess said the city could still use money from the undesignated fund balance, or, worst case scenario, seek a bond to cover the costs.
Each of the individual ward meetings with KRT Appraisal have garnered anywhere from 50 to 200 homeowners with questions or concerns about their new assessment values, according to Donchess, who said the city’s overall value has increased by more than $2 billion.
Despite the higher property values, Donchess said last week the tax rate is expected to decrease, possibly more than $4.
In addition to moving $1.5 million in surplus to the overlay reserve for future abatement cases, Donchess is also suggesting that an additional $4.5 million in surplus be used to help offset the tax rate.
“The $4.5 million is a comfortable number for us. Four out of the last five years we used $4.1 million,” John Griffin, the city’s chief financial officer, said of surplus money being returned to taxpayers.