Letter: Burlington home valuations systematically flawed, highly inconsistent within neighborhoods

Editor’s note: This letter is by Tom Licata, a resident of Burlington.

Burlington City Councilor Joan Shannon, who once lived in the house which I now reside in and thus knows our neighborhood, writes “Each neighborhood has a base value for a lot. … The fact that your house is located in your specific neighborhood is going to be the key driver in your lot value.”

City Assessor John Vickery’s “Official Notice of Appraised Value Change,” dated April 8, 2021, states “[T]he market values of properties have increasingly diverged … in ways that are not even across Burlington [neighborhoods].”

Thus it is self evident that one’s neighborhood is the key driver in one’s home valuation and that homes in one’s neighborhood should be similarly valued.

My lot, which is a corner lot, the lot once owned by City Councilor Joan Shannon, shows a land value of $24.35 per square foot. The corner lot just across the street from me — a mere 30 feet away or so — is valued at $18.44. This nearly 25% differential would result in my home’s valuation decreasing by some $56,000.  Yet, the home just next to mine — a mere one foot away or so — is valued at $26.79.

I’ve found other glaring disparities among the other homes in my “neighborhood” and I’m sure that readers on this Front Porch Forum would find similar glaring inconsistencies in their “neighborhood.”

My point is that the city of Burlington’s appraisal process is “systematically” flawed and it can’t be solved by placating a few vocal and loud protestors, such as me. This became more evident to me after my recent Zoom Property Valuation Appeal Hearing with Tyler Technologies.

City Councilor Joan Shannon, City Assessor John Vickery, et al. don’t want to admit this very expensive and burdensome reality. They wish to cloak it in long and rambling prose such as Councilor Shannon’s Front Porch Forum post titled “More Insight on the Reassessment Process and Appeals,” to which I am now responding.

Quoting Shakespeare: “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.”

Image courtesy of Public domain

9 thoughts on “Letter: Burlington home valuations systematically flawed, highly inconsistent within neighborhoods

  1. Don’t worry. It won’t be long before Burlington’s property value will be on par with Detroit.

    • If your Listers don’t satisfy your contention, you appeal to the Board of Civil Authority, then to the Select Board, then to Superior Court. It’s not difficult. But you must understand the law. I’ve done it successfully several times. After all, the Listers act in a perfunctory fashion. It’s the property owner’s responsibility to be sure their appraisal is lawful. You start with requesting a grievance hearing with the Listers. And you can submit that request for a hearing at any time, not just when reappraisals are issued.

      Importantly, once you begin the process, indicate with your property tax payment that you are paying under protest. That starts the clock. If/when you’re successful, you will be due a refund of the protested payments.

      Again, know the law. Following these procedures from the beginning is an incentive for the Listers to take your appeal seriously.

  2. Burlington is going to in for a taxation sticker shock. Many are going to get tax bills of $8,000 per year for 3 bed, 1 bath house.

    In North Carolina, they’ll tax you for $800 on the same house and pick up your trash.

    Yeah, some people might start asking questions about taxation.

    • Indeed, property taxpayers should understand that being appraised correctly and paying the comparable property tax is mutually exclusive from the political spending that drives the tax rate. Vermont consistently ranks in the top ten most expensive property tax States in the U.S…. primarily because more than 80% of the property tax is the result of spending more than $20,000 per student on its K-12 education monopoly. Idaho, for example, spends less than $8000 per student with property taxes that are less than half the rate of Vermont’s.

      The only positive attribute to Vermont’s property tax law is that taxpayers are protected (to some extent) from paying more than 5% of their earned income in property taxes. In general, if someone is paying $8000 per year, it means they have a qualified annual income of $160,000 or more.

      • If the house is assessed for over $500k all bets are off. Retire on a nice home, you will now pay the price.

        Liars and thieves.

  3. I did not say there is a price per square foot equivalency in each neighborhood. The way it was explained to me is that there is a base price for having a lot (any lot) in a neighborhood. From there it is adjusted for being a larger or smaller lot. A large lot in a given neighborhood will not have the same square foot price as a small lot in the same neighborhood. So it makes sense that a smaller lot is paying a higher square ft price than a larger lot.

    • Joan,
      So those who could afford the least pay the most? What about fairness and equity? It’s always heads you win tails I lose with you people.

    • Again, your property tax is based on the Fair Market Value (FMV) of your property. And the FMV is based on the recent sales of ‘comparable’ properties. To say that “it makes sense that a smaller lot is paying a higher square ft price than a larger lot” is misleading. A ‘small lot’, for example, has development restrictions a larger lot may not have, thereby decreasing the FMV of the smaller lot. There are many attributes that go into the determination of FMV.

Comments are closed.