Reps from Concord’s Assessing Department meet with property owners
Property owners appealing their assessed value must prove that it is incorrect or higher than similar properties, representatives from Concord’s Assessing Department said at a meeting last night.
“A higher tax bill is not grounds for an appeal,” said Kathryn Temchack, the city’s director of real estate assessments. “It has to be something with the assessment that is improper or incorrect.”
Temchack held a meeting last night to explain the assessment and appeal process. While many commercial property owners have expressed frustration over increased assessments they received in November, fewer than 10 people attended last night’s meeting in the city council’s chambers.
Concord’s total commercial property value increased last year for the first time since 2008, according to the Assessing Department. The overall assessed value of commercial and industrial properties increased 13.77 percent this year, while residential properties decreased in total value by 2.64 percent.
A meeting between city officials and commercial property owners hosted by the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce last month attracted a larger crowd. Tim Sink, president of the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce, said more than 20 property owners attended the private meeting.
Sink said last month’s meeting answered many questions for property owners, and he’s heard from several who plan to appeal their increased assessments.
“There remains some concerns for many that received large percentage increases because, at the same time, some of these folks were seeing their revenues dropping,” he said after the meeting last month.
Assessment increases shocked many commercial property owners when they received tax bills in November; the Smokestack Center on North State Street increased 98.88 percent in assessed value, the building that includes The Draft sports bar on South Main Street increased 29.75 percent in assessed value and the Capitol Shopping Center on Storrs Street had a 16.91 percent increase.
Temchack told the Monitor last month that the increased commercial property values reflect updated data and signs that the economy is improving.
As of yesterday, the city has received 19 appeals for 2012 assessments. Temchack said that number is comparable to past years, but her office usually receives “the lion’s share” of appeals in the last two weeks before the March 1 deadline. She encouraged property owners to apply as soon as possible if they plan to appeal their assessments.
When applying for a tax abatement, Temchack said property owners must include proof that their assessment is too high, such as copies of other appraisals and values of similar properties. Commercial property owners should also include copies of income and expenses for the last three years, copies of leases, and copies of rental advertising.
Last night, Temchack explained how the city assesses properties each year.
Residential properties are assessed through a sales-based approach, she said. Assessors look at sale prices of properties, compare them to similar properties and make adjustments for size, condition and other factors.
Commercial and industrial properties are assessed through a combination of cost and income approaches, Temchack said. In a cost-based approach, she said the city assesses how much it would cost to replace or rebuild the structure, then subtracts value based on its condition. An income approach is based on how much income a property can generate.
Temchack said a different approach is used for commercial properties because “we don’t have very many sales on commercial properties as we do on residential properties.”
City Manager Tom Aspell said last week he’s confident that if individual assessments are incorrect or unfair, they will be corrected during the appeal process.
“We’ve always listened to that and been able to make adjustments,” Aspell said.
After the city’s Board of Assessors makes decisions on appeals, property owners have the option to appeal again to either the state Board of Tax and Land Appeals or Merrimack County Superior Court. The state Supreme Court hears final appeals on property assessments.
The tax rate for most Concord property owners decreased by nearly 1 percent in 2012. The rate, which is the same for commercial and residential property owners, is $24.37 per $1,000 in assessed property value for properties in the Concord School District. Penacook properties are in the Merrimack Valley School District and have a 2012 tax rate of $27.52 per $1,000 in assessed property value – a 2.88 percent increase over the 2011 tax rate.