Firm defends data despite uproar

Townshend Selectboard slammed with calls from residents upset about reappraisals

TOWNSHEND — Widespread public anger regarding the recent preliminary property reappraisal letters sent out late last month dominated the Selectboard's May 6 meeting.

The reappraisals, overseen by David Marazoff and his company, Marazoff Assessing Services, are being performed in preparation of the town's new Grand List, as well as for calculating property taxes and town expenditures for the upcoming fiscal year.

According to the town's initial contract with Mazaroff, reappraisals should have been completed by May 1, but Selectboard chair Henry “Kit” Martin said that all the board members' phones had been ringing off the hook from residents angered by the often-drastic changes in their property values.

In addition, many of the letters contained inaccuracies in ID numbers of residences, and the acreage of some land parcels was misstated.

“It's really caused quite an uproar in town,” Martin said. “Further, as this continued on, we began to have a few issues on how far the appraisal has come along and what the outcome is going to look like.”

Martin added that he hoped new, updated letters of appraisal would be sent out to provide a comparison for property owners.

One resident present at the meeting said the total square footage of her house had increased by nearly 300 square feet. Another said she was unable to receive a current title card from the town listers' office. A third found that, without anyone having walked through her house for the most recent appraisal, her property value had decreased by $73,000.

Town Lister Robin O'Neill stated, in response, that the most recent 2007 property appraisal was “highly dubious” and should not be trusted completely.

“I have gone the extra mile for this town - when I started this, I remember being told, 'We really need good numbers here,' and that's always important for me,” Marazoff said. “If we all focus on getting good results, I think we'll all be happy.”

Marazoff continued to explain in detail the appraisal process he uses.

Beginning with an examination of town data already collected on properties, he and his representatives then visited each property, remeasuring, photographing, and validating data as necessary, he said.

After the raw data had been collected, Marazoff and his firm entered the information into a database. This same data was mailed to taxpayers with the letter of appraisal.

Over the past two weeks, Marazoff has been meeting with residents, answering their questions and adjusting values accordingly. People are continuing to call in, and, according to Mazaroff, he is responding as quickly as he can.

“The values are correct. That's the bottom line,” Marazoff said. “The correct value went to the correct taxpayers.”

“I regret that a mail merge caused a shift in the property ID numbers, but that has nothing to do with the values themselves,” Marazoff continued. “They are totally unrelated, and I can't stress that to the board enough.”

Final appraisal letters will be sent out with a property value booklet in the coming weeks.

Despite the complications, Marazoff predicted the Grand List will be completed on time.

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