Maybe you could title this one, “How The (Tax Assessing) Grinch Stole Christmas (In Nashua).”
Some financial experts believe that city taxpayers don’t understand how assessments really work, how market value comes in to play and that not all properties appreciate or depreciate at the same rate. In other words, the average taxpayer sees the bottom line, the bill, and then freaks out.
Maybe they’re right; I don’t know too many homeowners excited about paying their tax bills, including wealthy folks in tony neighborhoods. And when a confusing revaluation of properties took place as it did here in the Gate City earlier this year, many saw an increase in value and wondered how those new inflated numbers came to be.
Like other residents, no one came inside my property to assess it, so that causes me to scratch my head and ask, then how could it properly be assessed?
In the past, an inspector would see the inside as well as the outside of a property.
The city of Nashua was undergoing the 2018 revaluation because it was state-required, and according to the nashuanh.gov website, every property would be reviewed from the street. The city hired the Mass. firm of KRT Appraisal to perform the valuations and the city’s assessing department to establish the new property values.
I received a letter from City Hall on August 27 stating that my assessment was based upon fair market value and reflects the change in market value of my property since the last revaluation completed in 2013.
My new assessment rose close to $49,000. I shouldn’t complain compared to property owners who have seen assessments skyrocket. But I actually thought my assessment could have been higher. Some have appealed their bloated valuations, and folks will just reluctantly pay up to the city tax collector by the due date of December 14 (tomorrow).
My December tax bill saw a tiny jump. So in that regard, I got lucky. I know, I should sit down, be thankful and be quiet.
Resident Laurie Ortolano is crying foul, however, and I don’t blame her. I admire her grit in taking on City Hall and representing Nashua taxpayers.
Union Leader Correspondent Kimberly Houghton recently wrote about Ortolano’s concerns with the assessing department and the hike in her case:
“...Ortolano said earlier the assessed value for her home at 41 Berkeley St. is now nearly $694,000, and is equivalent to about $210 per square foot compared to $140 per square foot for similar homes on Berkeley Street.”
Ortolano has expressed a true lack of policy and procedure existing within the city’s assessing office, and she is now working with an attorney.
The first step in trying to correct an unfair tax bill is to file an abatement with the Assessing Department. You can pick up a form at the Assessor’s Office or online at the city’s website. Then, City Hall advises this: “Once you receive the notification of your abatement and you are still dissatisfied, the next step would be to file an appeal with either the State of NH BTLA or the Superior Court.”
Meantime, Mayor Jim Donchess has ordered an in-house audit of the Nashua Tax Assessor’s Office to ensure taxpayers are being properly served, the department is operating as it should and that accountability is there.