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Fayston released a reappraisal for the town that increases the Grand List from $286 million to $370.6 million, but taxpayers won't know the new tax rate until the middle of next month.

 

The state will set the town's education tax rate after grievance hearings on the reappraisal are completed the first week of August. The new appraisal may not bring the town's valuation up to 100 percent of fair market value.

Lister Gussie Graves said the goal of the reappraisal is to achieve 100 percent of fair market value but said that she could not state for certain that this reappraisal would achieve that because of the fluctuating real estate market and the state's method of calculating a town's Common Level of Appraisal (CLA). The state uses the CLA to determine each town's statewide education tax rate. Towns must reappraise if their CLA falls below 80 percent of fair market value.

Graves said that the new appraisal is designed to get the town close to 100 percent of fair market value.

She anticipated that the new appraisal would drop the combined state and town residential tax rate from $2.0139 to an estimated $1.45. The nonresidential combined rate is estimated to drop from $2.13 to $1.54.

Graves said that taxpayers could use the ratio of the old Grand List value to the new Grand List value to determine if their taxes would increase or decrease. The ratios are listed in the tax appraisal booklet that was mailed to taxpayers last week.

The average ratio of the old to new Grand List is 77.2 percent. Properties with a ratio of 77.2 percent will see no change in their tax burden. Taxpayers with ratios higher than 77.2 percent will see a decrease in their taxes and those with ratios lower than 77.2 percent will see an increase in their taxes.

Graves said that the town won't know the exact tax rates until the state assesses the new appraisal, assigns the town a CLA and sets Fayston's state education tax rate. She said that immediately after the grievance hearings end on August 4, the town would submit its appraisal to the state and would likely have the final tax rate by August 16 and tax bills will go out shortly thereafter.

Graves said that the town did not use a three-year look back on real estate sales to do the reappraisal. The state uses a three-year look back to assess a town's CLA. Graves said the listers used only one year of real estate sales to do the reappraisal.

"We did not go back to 2007 because the economy out there is not that good and real estate sales are not as strong as they were then. We felt we were very fair to the taxpayers," Graves said.

Data from the Vermont Housing Data website (housingdata.org) provides historic sales prices for primary and vacation homes in Fayston. The website provides median and average prices from 1988 to 2009.

In 2004, when Fayston last reappraised, the average price of a primary residence sold in the town was $205,161. In 2009, the average price of a primary residence sold in the town was $257,755, an increase of 26 percent. The average price of a vacation home sold in 2004 was $160,846 and in 2009 the average price of a vacation home almost doubled to $319,643, an increase of 99 percent.

Average primary home prices peaked in 2006 at $393,050. That year vacation homes averaged $303,755.

Average vacation home prices peaked at $397,833 in Fayston in 2007, a year when average primary homes cost $284,933.

Joshua Schwartz, director of the Mad River Valley Planning District cautioned against taking the statistical data too literally, noting that the averages can be skewed by one high value property selling or several affordable properties selling as the real estate market softened.

Taxpayers with questions about their new appraisal can call Graves at the town offices at 496-2454, ext. 24 or stop by the town offices on July 27, 28 and 29 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The town will hold grievances on August 2, 3 and 4 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Taxpayers who wish to appeal their new valuation need to file their intention to grieve in writing on or before the day of the grievance hearings. Grievance letters need to be postmarked on or before August 2 and grievance hearings will be by appointment only.

The town was assisted in the reappraisal by an independent contracted appraiser, Tom Vickery. While listers Graves, Tony Egan and Fred Spencer conducted most of the appraisals, Vickery appraised the properties of town officials. There are 1,174 parcels of property in the town and almost all property values increased.


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