ELIZABETHTOWN — All 18 towns in Essex County have avoided getting penalized with state equalization rates by being at full-value assessments.
County Real Property Tax Service Director Charli Lewis said the State Office of Real Property Services has deemed properties in all towns in the county are assessed at 100 percent of market value.
Lewis recently told the County Board of Supervisors Finance Committee that assessors in the towns should be commended.
“I believe it’s three years in a row every town achieved 100 percent. It’s a lot of good, hard work by the assessors.”
If the state sets an equalization rate for a town, all properties in that town increase in value the percentage of that equalization rate, so taxing entities collect more in taxes.
The State Office of Real Property Services has a program that most towns have enrolled in that pays municipalities a fee per parcel for keeping assessments updated.
One facet of that program, however, recently required the County Real Property Tax Service to send commercial-property owners an income survey that some supervisors criticized as an unnecessary personal intrusion.
The survey asked for the income from their businesses, said Supervisor Gerald Morrow (D-Chesterfield), and should have been labeled as voluntary only.
“A lot of people threw it in the trash as rubbish,” Morrow said. “As far as I’m concerned, it is rubbish.”
It was a state mandate for the State Reassessment Aid Program, Lewis said, and if she refused, the state could dock their aid.
“They are not required to send them (surveys) back,” Lewis said.
“Are they going to do assessments up or down with this?” Morrow asked.
Assessments could go in either direction once they process the information, Lewis said. She said only 246 surveys were returned so far out of about 1,400 mailed.