NASHUA — With the city likely to be ordered to conduct a full measure and list revaluation of all city properties, aldermen agreed this week to begin the project now before it is mandatory.
“If we do not undertake this, I think we are going to see some pushback from the Department of Revenue Administration who will encourage the Board of Tax and Land Appeals to order us to do this,” said Attorney Steven Bolton, corporation council for the city.
It has been nearly 30 years since Nashua has conducted a full measure and list, which is when assessors make every attempt to enter homes to ensure that property card data is accurate.
Bolton said the full measure and list recommendation was initially made two years ago, stressing it is not a “knee-jerk reaction” to criticism that the city’s assessing division has faced throughout the past year.
In June, the BTLA opened a docket to explore whether there are any inequities or disproportionalities within the city’s assessing department process. A hearing was held last week to discuss the matter.
Bolton reminded aldermen that throughout the past 15 years, the DRA’s municipal and property division has studied Nashua’s assessment records using property card samples to check records for accuracy.
“We have never failed — never,” he said.
On Tuesday, aldermen voted 13-1 to spend up to $1.3 million on a full measure and list revaluation of all city properties. Alderman Ben Clemons was the only alderman opposed.
“My fear is that we are being reactionary,” Clemons said earlier, explaining a citywide revaluation took place last fall that increased his property taxes by about $1,200 — an increase that he thought was appropriate.
Spending $1.3 million on another revaluation to make sure the math is correct doesn’t make sense, Clemons said recently.
“We would be putting the city in a bad position if we just defy and say we aren’t going to do this,” said Mayor Jim Donchess, explaining Nashua will likely be ordered to do it anyway, which could cost more money than if it proceeded on its own.
Although some citizens believe there are issues that need to be corrected with Nashua’s property records, Donchess said, “These are beliefs that I do not hold.” Still, the mayor said the best way to find out and make corrections is to undertake a full measure and list revaluation.
Residents voiced concerns about whether homeowners will allow assessors into their properties to obtain pertinent information for data accuracy. Several residents spoke in opposition to spending more money on another revaluation.
Instead of spending the $1.3 million on another revaluation, one resident suggested that the funds be used to hire qualified people to work in the assessing department.
“It is hard to believe the BTLA and DRA would be looking into this seriously if they didn’t have some credible evidence,” agreed Michael O’Connor of Berkeley Street.
“These are your experts,” Kim Kleiner, administrative services director, said of the members of the city’s assessing department. She said the assessing division is supportive of the full measure and list process as a way to ensure that assessment records are accurate and provide equity.