Cumberland property values up, tax rate still coming

Cumberland property values up, tax rate still coming

CUMBERLAND – The Town Council will adopt a new, lower tax rate on April 5, Tax Assessor Ken Mallette said this week, in plenty of time for a May 1 mailing of tax bills that reflect new property assessments.

And while councilors approving the budget last June promised homeowners no tax increase overall, some individual bills will be up and some will be down, depending on whether the property assessments are up, down or remained the same.

Working with Vision Government Solutions, Mallette and members of his staff reviewed 800 properties, including the 600 that changed hands in 2016, to establish the new values, he said.

Overall, he said, values are up, so the rate will be coming down.

Mayor Bill Murray is terming the upcoming tax levy as “revenue neutral,” a reference to the overall pledge of no tax increase contained with this year’s bills when the total levy on taxpayers is considered.

Rhode Island communities are required by state law to reassess properties every three years by doing two statistical reviews and one on-site inspection per decade. This year’s was a statistical review that adjusted values based on home sales, particularly in the past six months.

Mallette says he’s confident that the new assessments by Vision Government Solutions accurately reflect the market value as of December 2016.

Mallette could not predict yet how much of a value increase will be enough to trigger a tax increase for particular taxpayers but said he will have that number before the new rate is set.

Likely seeing an increase, for example, are owners of houses in the $200,000 to $350,000 range, which real estate brokers are saying are in short supply at a time of high demand by millennials buying their first houses. Values on those houses are up more than 10 to 15 percent in many cases.

On the other hand, homes valued at more than $600,000 did not show a lot of increase in value, he said.

Also stagnant were older condominiums, while newer ones were up in price compared to three years ago.

Mixed-use commercial properties like 30 Martin St. and 32 Meeting St. are down in value, Mallette said.

He did say that like three years ago, one-third are up, one-third stayed the same and one-third went down.

And he’s stressing that residents have access to a series of appeal levels if they feel the assessment isn’t fair. Letters mailed to residents include the website address and phone number for making an appointment with Vision Government Solutions. Homeowners still not satisfied may appeal directly to Mallette, then to the town’s Board of Assessment and finally to Superior Court.

Mallette is also reminding senior citizens that Cumberland has a program that allows them to defer the tax increase.

Town Council members surveyed by The Breeze reported few complaints by constituents.

Councilor Bob Shaw said some are mistakenly multiplying their new value by the old rate of $17.08 to find big increases instead of waiting for the new tax rate.

Councilor Scott Schmitt said his own house at 33 Windsong Road is up 10 percent which “accurately reflects the value of my house,” he said.

Councilor Jim Metivier said he’s finding in District 1 that “everyone seems to ‘get it’ and are happy that their homes have increased in value.”

Councilor Tom Kane described “a handful of phone calls, e-mails and Facebook messages. Many of the questions are related to the method used in valuing the properties, how high can a new assessment go, and questions directly about the new value.”

Kane, the tax assessor in North Providence, noted he’s gone through this process in Providence and Coventry, too. He urged uncertain homeowners to schedule a meeting with Vision Government Solutions to discuss the details.

About setting the town’s tax levy in April, Cumberland uniquely begins its spending year on July 1 but doesn’t tax to support it until the following May after the levy is set. Only about 40 percent of the tax revenue is collected in the same budget year.

When this year’s $93 million budget was adopted, Town Council members did agree to a 3 percent increase in the levy but said it would be offset by the $26 million in value on Highland Corporate Park buildings that had been under a tax treaty, as well as growth around town that includes both the new Highland apartments, new homes and other commercial growth.

Comments

I guess I should schedule an appeal to see if I can get my house re-evaluation down to within the 10-15% range. My assessment went up by almost 30%!!! Of course, it'll probably mean that I will have to let them in my house to look at every light and plumbing fixture which will result in an even higher eval. My Dad told me a long time ago that "you can't fight town hall". I guess this is one of those times.

As a homeowner here in Cumberland for 47-years, since this mandatory, every 10-years and every 3-years statistical, revaluation requirement was put in place I had to, on 2-occasions, appeal the initial revaluation.

On both occasions I went in for my appointment, presented my argument...and on both occasions my assessment was revised.

Bottom line, almost everyone you deal with in a still, somewhat, small rural town as is Cumberland (barely) are our friends, neighbors, fellow citizens and sometimes family!

There is NO REASON to believe you will not be listened to and treated unfairly!

Tom Letourneau

PS: As to the current valuation on my home...it went up! But, I have NO COMPLAINTS, I think it was more than fair!

Preparing for a brutal tax bill. My assessment is up 27%. Much like Stuck in the Valley's. Not sure where this 10-15% is coming from. I understand that higher value homes have appreciated less but I'm sitting at double the average assessment increase in my little ranch? I know the rate will be adjusted, but this could be ugly.