NASHUA — The New Hampshire Board of Tax and Land Appeals will be investigating allegations of inequities within the city’s assessment process — a small victory for a local woman fighting to correct mismanagement issues within the Nashua Assessing Department.
On June 19, the Board of Tax and Land Appeals filed an order and set a hearing notice for Aug. 6.
“The board opens this docket to investigate concerns regarding the legality and proportionality of the city’s assessments,” the board wrote in its order, adding the board previously heard testimony that the city has not performed a complete measure-and-list, or a cyclical review of the physical property data since the early 1990s, along with allegations that the city may be treating sold and unsold properties differently during the assessing process.
“ … The board is concerned only insofar as they may impact the legality and proportionality of the city’s assessments and the transparency of the assessing process,” it wrote.
During the hearing, which will take place at 9 a.m. on Aug. 6 in Concord, city officials and residents may present evidence regarding their concerns about the assessing process.
“I am thrilled,” said Laurie Ortolano, a Nashua resident who previously filed a formal complaint with the New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration claiming misconduct, negligence and deceit by the Nashua Assessing Department.
Ortolano said this week that she is pleased the Board of Tax and Land Appeals is taking a closer look at the matter, adding she is prepared to present all of her documents and letters written over the last five months to city aldermen and assessors.
“All of the issues I raised on sales adjusting, sales chasing and capturing of permits, favoritism and inequities between sold and unsold homes — these are all serious concerns that the city and the board have not responded to,” she said.
In March, the city’s chief assessor position was eliminated after an internal audit report highlighted significant problems within the city’s assessing division.
The audit revealed ineffective management, and resulted in a 28-page report that detailed several findings and recommendations.
“The major findings of the management audit are: ineffective management of the assessing department, lack of internal policies to guide operations, disparate software systems utilized by the department are not optimized, (and) a full measure-and-list of all properties within the city has not been conducted since the early 1990’s,” states the report.
The report made several recommendations, including that a full measure-and-list project, which includes a visit to all properties in the city, take place over the next few years to update property record data.
“The goal here is to make sure the assessing function, going forward, works effectively and accurately,” Donchess said recently.
Donchess said that all of the recommended changes should be a priority, adding the adjustments should result in a stronger assessing department.