Properties in the Adirondacks are unique and range from off-the-grid to great camp luxury. Over the years, we’ve hosted 4 conferences for property assessors to ensure that everyone gets a fair, consistent, and reliable assessment.
Adirondack property assessors face unique challenges. The State owns the majority of the land in many towns, making consistent assessment of State lands critical to local governments. There are often few sales in a town each year making comps difficult to obtain. Quite often school districts include portions of multiple towns. If those towns are assessed using different methodologies, taxes may be apportioned inequitably. Finding qualified people to collect and verify inventory data/become assessors is difficult. Finally, revaluations, when conducted, are often on different cycles for towns in the same school districts, creating big swings in the proportions of school budgets borne by property owners in each town.
The following issues related to property assessment reform were ranked as most important by our members: 1. fair and consistent property assessments for all residents, both year-round and seasonal. 2. elimination of State-imposed and unfunded mandates, and 3. state lands assessed in a manner consistent with private land assessments.
To address these issues, we held property assessors conferences in 2008, 2010, 2011, and 2015.
Resources from Past Conferences
Evaluation of Lakefront Properties
On September 17, 2015 AdkAction.org hosted a one-day seminar for North Country assessors. Over sixty-five assessors attended the 9am to 4pm seminar at the Lake Placid Olympic Center. Videos of the conference is available here. The goal of the conference was to enable assessors to approach valuation of lakefront properties in a uniform and consistent fashion across the North Country. This was accomplished by sharing best practices and reviewing proven methodologies used in assessing the often unique characteristics of lakefront properties.
The NYS Office of Real Property Services gave all attendees six hours of continuing education credit, an indication of the value of the conference. With an overall conference rating of 8.9 out of 10, the attendees thought the conference was well worth the time and effort to attend. One attendee was even heard to say: "Finally, a class content full of meat and potatoes".
View the agenda here.
On Thursday, June 23, 2011, AdkAction.org, Inc. organized and hosted the annual conference for the Adirondack Counties Assessors' Association (ACAA). Content was presented by Dave Briggs, an IAO qualified instructor. Dave's extensive knowledge and excellent facilitation made for a very successful conference. To underscore the quality of the session, ORPS approved 6 continuing education credits for all certified assessors who attended.
Property assessments are based on the property data collected for each parcel. The conference's theme of property data collection conformity was aimed at providing North Country assessors with a uniform methodology for collecting parcel data. This is a fundamental requirement to ensure that properties are assessed in a consistent manner.
Dave Briggs reviewed existing data collection methodologies and worked with the assessors to try to determine when a standardized data collection methodology could be implemented throughout the Adirondack region. He covered data collection techniques for vacant land and residential, commercial, and industrial properties.
The feedback from the assessors was overwhelmingly positive, with 97% of the attendees who filled out course evaluations, agreeing or strongly agreeing that the conference met or exceeded their expectations.
"Thank you.....the conference was excellent.....I think it was truly successful and I thank AdkAction." -Assessor from 2011 Conference
Thanks for putting on a helpful conference. This will get me on the road to more consistency, especially in assessing seasonal cottages." -Assessor from 2011 Conference
The 2011 the conference was held at the Wild Center in Tupper Lake. In his opening remarks, Dave Briggs told the assessors that AdkAction.org, Inc. deserved recognition for its diligence in looking into and understanding the assessment function, doing the research to know what problems confront assessors, and then actually taking some steps and actions to try to do something about it to make athe system better. He said AdkAction.org's approach was "Highly unusual, but very refreshing."
Challenges of Equitable Valuation
The goal of the 2010 Adirondack Counties Assessors' Conference was to provide a forum for the assessors to discuss the challenges of ensuring the equitable valuation of all property in the North Country, both public and private. Those challenges include issues such as immense tracts of state land, few comparable sales, and waterfront valuation methodologies which vary from town to town. At the end of the day, the participants agreed that the conference met or exceeded their expectations.
By mid-afternoon, the leaders from each breakout group had related the consensus of their respective groups to the rest of the room. Dave Briggs closed the conference by encouraging the audience to think regionally and to continue to share ideas: "Think about, on a larger level, some reforms that would ultimately make our job easier."
The conference featured five speakers in the morning, followed by breakout sessions in the afternoon to address each of the five issues presented in the morning:
1. Comparable Sales- Paul Maniacek, Assessor for the Towns of Horicon and Chester
2. Valuation Models and Techniques - Dave Briggs, Assessor for the Towns of Cortlandville, Homer, Taylor, Virgil, and Willett
3. Waterfront Valuation- Doug Tichenor, Assessor for the Towns of Brighton, Franklin, Harrietstown, and Santa Clara
4. Equalization Rates- Curt Schoeberl, Assessor for the Town of Shawangunk
5. Property Owner Understanding- Sue Otis, Assessor for the Town of Malta
State Land Valuation
A conference focused on the State's reimbursement for its lands in the Adirondack Forest Preserve was held in Saranac Lake on August 22, 2008. This topic is of great interest to the towns in the Park, as many are characterized by having a majority of their land owned by the State. The Conference was attended by over 120 representatives of local municipalities, including assessors, town supervisors, county officials, and representatives of advocacy groups.