MANCHESTER, NH September 8, 2021–Manchester Republican mayoral candidate Richard Girard released a plan to prevent the kind of sharp spikes in property values forced onto homeowners by the recently concluded property tax revaluation. He also renewed his call for the city to release the property tax bills well before Election Day.
Instead of waiting five years in between revaluations, which is the maximum amount of time allowed by state law, Girard proposed setting revaluation triggers based on the property tax equalization ratio.
“As property values grow based on sales, the equalization rate falls below 100% to reflect that growth. If property values decline, then the equalization rate rises above 100%. As we’ve seen in this and other revaluations, a lot can happen in 5 years and residential taxpayers often get severe sticker shock. To prevent this, I propose to set triggers at around 85% and 115%. If the equalization ration falls below 85% or goes above 115%, then the city would undertake a revaluation. This will prevent the kind of extreme swing in values we just went through and avoid massive shifts in the property tax burden between residential and non-residential properties.”
Girard said the proposal may require the addition of one or two staff members to the Board of Assessors‘ office to more closely collect, monitor, and process real estate sales data. However, he believed it would enable efficiencies that may reduce the cost of using outside companies and said preventing this kind of value swing and maintaining a more stable tax rate would more than outweigh the cost.
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“Those who got hit the hardest in this revaluation are anybody who’s been in their home for an extended period of time, particularly the disabled and elderly on fixed incomes. The city should immediately move to increase the exemption for these folks as a way of minimizing the sharp sting that will come from having to pay the whopping increase in taxes that will come in the next bill.
All indications were that there would be a radical shift in the tax base from commercial/industrial properties to residential ones. That Mayor Joyce Craig and the Board of Aldermen are only now talking about increasing the exemptions is inexcusable. They should have been ready to go once the values were finalized. Better yet, they could have passed a resolution that at least increased the exemptions by the percent increase in the total tax base at a minimum. Now, they’re going to have to scramble to get something done before the tax bills go out.”
Girard also reiterated his multiple calls to ensure the tax bills are sent well in advance of the city’s November 2nd Election Day. “While Mayor Craig tried desperately to get the Board of Assessors Chair Bob Gagne to say the tax bills couldn’t be sent before the election, it didn’t work. Granted, he wasn’t wild about the idea, but he did say, if told to get it done, the necessary state filings could be made in mid-October so that the tax bills could be out before the election.
There are historic precedents for this in the past 30 years and, given the circumstances, it should happen again this year. People deserve to know how much their taxes went up because of the revaluation and how much they went up because of the budget before they vote. There’s no valid or pressing reason why it can’t be done, other than the politicians at City Hall don’t want it done, especially Mayor Craig.”