WVN #270: Time to check your assessment
- Dear Wayland Voter,
Assessments in Wayland are a perennial hot topic. This year there is particular concern because of revaluation under a new system. This has produced questions about the way land is valued in different neighborhoods and whether differences in houses
are being properly accounted for.
Residents may discuss the validity of their proposed assessments by making an appointment now through Dec. 1. Other opportunities for expressing general concern are the meetings Dec. 1 of the Board of Assessors and Dec. 8 of the Board of Selectmen.
In both cases the town's assessment consultant will present findings.
NOW IS THE TIME FOR QUESTIONS
Wayland residents have until Dec. 1 to make an appointment to question their assessment listed in an "impact notice" of their proposed property assessment for Fiscal 2009. The mailed notice is a result of the revaluation performed this year by Vision
Residents with questions about their property value should call Vision at 1-888-844-4300 by Dec. 1 (the office is closed Nov. 27 and 28) and make an appointment (through Dec. 4) to discuss their assessment. Evening appointments are offered.
The best way to see what the town is taxing is to obtain a copy of your property record card at town hall (offices are open until 7 p.m. on Monday). The property card has more information on your home than can be found on the assessors' web site. Also
view the assessors' web site or go to the library for a list of the value of every single-family home in town and informational sheets on how various elements of a building are valued, and the land multipliers and map.
This is also your chance to point out assessment information that doesn't make sense to you. The Vision values are preliminary. The old "neighborhoods" are gone, and the new system can be seen in the color-coded map of relative land values found on
the assessors' web page under "Vision Information" and in the library.
The land categories range from multipliers of 0.75 for heavy traffic to 1.45 for "subdivision good." Category 9 is not printed on the map, which is 1.9. The lake is 1.5, and the pond is 2.2. The land values are on Page 8 of the document titled "Land
Narrative and Tables."
One might question whether a south Wayland subdivision with cookie-cutter raised ranches should have the same land value multiplier as Glezen Lane, Grove Street, and other areas in North Wayland. Or one might question that some premier streets
with large tracts of land and very large homes (portions of Moore Road, all of Lincoln Road) are valued using the same multiplier as Woodridge, i.e. "subdivision good."
Residents who went through the abatement process last year might want to check their property cards closely; in the past, many changes from an abatement have not been recorded permanently.
The impact notice says: "These values are pending preliminary certification by the Department of Revenue." This means these values have not yet been approved by the state.
Many residents believe Wayland assessments could be more accurate. Some residents had very high expectations for the results of the revaluation process and say they're amazed at what they see. But in fact the revaluation process was merely a 'drive by'
performed by an outside firm to note the characteristics of the land (such as view, steep slope, obvious wetland, high tension wires) and the neighborhood.
The revaluation went further and changed the grades of houses, in many cases to conform to reality; apparently the town has had grade inflation. The way land is valued has also changed.
Because the town has been on a 10-year cycle of inspections, many homes have not been inspected in that length of time, and some for an even longer period. This cycle may be inappropriate for a suburban town that has undergone dynamic changes.
For many reasons, many taxpayers believe Wayland needs to put its house in order. We are at the point where many residents are refusing to let in any inspectors. Confidence in the system could be boosted by a full list and measure, which involves
inspecting all homes in one or two years to provide a more accurate base line. A townwide inspection would aim at reassuring all residents that they have been treated by identical criteria.
Residents who argue for a full list and measure say it would have immense value for the future of the town.
Structural inequities and numerous inaccuracies remain and have been thoroughly documented. One piece of good news is that the Board of Assessors is contemplating changing to a 6-year cycle.
The consultant is scheduled to meet with the Board of Assessors Dec. 1 and with the Board of Selectmen on Dec. 8. Public comment periods at these meetings offer citizens a valuable opportunity to voice their concerns.
-- Molly Upton
FINCOM HIRES ASSESSMENT CONSULTANT
The Finance Committee has hired a consultant to evaluate aspects of assessment as well as the practices and efficiency of the assessors' office. Part of the process involves inspecting about 75 homes, of all makes and models, to understand whether
Wayland's assessments are accurate, and if not, how far off they are.
If you receive a letter, please consider allowing the firm to inspect your home as this will aid in starting to improve assessment accuracy.
Wayland spends an enormous amount of money and time on abatements, and many argue that this money would be far better spent obtaining accurate assessments and thereby reducing the abatement funding.
NEW DATE PLANNED FOR CVS HEARING
CVS has asked for a delay in the zoning hearing on a controversial proposal to replace four Cochituate businesses with a large drug store.
The Zoning Board of Appeals scheduled the hearing for 9 p.m. on Nov. 25. But Building Commissioner Dan Bennett issued a statement on Nov. 24 saying that by law the ZBA can't hold the hearing until it receives findings and recommendations from the
Planning Board. The planners next meet on Dec. 9.
In view of this information, CVS asked the ZBA for a continuance until Jan. 27, Bennett said.
A number of Cochituate residents have spoken out against the proposal for the corner of Main and East Plain streets, saying it would be out of scale and inappropriate for the neighborhood.
"I am in receipt of numerous emails from residents regarding the CVS application," Bennett's statement said. "All emails received by this department will be forwarded to ZBA members for their review. Any questions for the ZBA can be addressed during
the public hearing."
By law the ZBA must open the hearing at 9 p.m. on Nov. 25, but the expectation is that the board will immediately act to continue the hearing until Jan. 27.
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Wayland Voters Network
Michael Short, Editor