Nashua Homeowner Continues to Fight for Fair Assessments
As written about previously, Citizen Exposes Flaws in Assessing Practices in Nashua, New Hampshire, a private citizen, Laurie Ortolano has taken on the cause of fighting for fair assessments in Nashua. On August 6, 2019, she continued that fight before a state board, the Board of Tax and Land Appeals in the state capitol. The Board of Tax and Land Appeals has the power to order a city-wide reassessment of all the property in Nashua or any municipality in the state after receiving information from any source or when it receives a petition from 50 taxpayers.
Ortolano discovered vastly different values for similar homes when she researched the assessments in Nashua, New Hampshire. She felt as though she received an unfair assessment on her house in connection with a statistical update by the outside firm of KRT Appraisal for the 2018 tax year. She spent two months reviewing property tax cards and discovered inconsistencies in assessments. She said that her discoveries were overwhelming. One of her discoveries was the failure of the assessing department to make changes in assessments when building permits were filed with the City. When Ortolano brought her complaints to the City, the Mayor ordered an audit of the assessing department to be led by the Chief Financial Officer and the Mayor’s Chief of Staff.
Just days before the City’s audit report was released, Ortolano brought her complaints to the Board of Tax and Land Appeals. The Audit Report identified a number of deficiencies. One of the deficiencies identified is that a full measure and list had not been conducted in the City since the early 1990’s. A full measure and list involves the physical inspection of each property in the taxing jurisdiction, also referred to as a full revaluation. Mayor Donchess eliminated the position of Chief Assessor and recommended that a full measure and list be conducted in the next five years pursuant to one of the recommendations of the Audit Report. Although the bond for the full measure and list has not been voted on by the Board of Alderman before this blog was written, some alderman have expressed their view that a full measure and list is unneeded after the statistical update that was completed in 2018.
For her part, Ortolano is a semi-retired engineer who has lived in Nashua for about six years. She has spent about $12,000 of her own money on legal fees and a private investigator. As written about in Nashua Assessor Asleep at the Wheel, the private investigator she hired discovered that the only certified assessor in the Nashua assessing department was napping and driving around aimlessly in order to accrue mileage for reimbursement by the City when he was supposed to be conducting field work.
Ortolano feels as though the changes made by the City are superficial. She told a reporter, “I feel as though some people are being hurt by this system, especially the elderly, young people in debt and those working multiple jobs.”
Ortolano has provided the Board of Tax and Land Appeals with ample of evidence of the need for a full measure and list. Based on the evidence that she discovered, and the Audit Report prepared by the City, the Board of Tax and Land Appeals should order an immediate reassessment in Nashua and not permit it to continue the inequity for another five years as proposed by the City.
Allobar Strategies provides professional assistance in evaluating the fairness of property tax assessments. If you would like assistance with an evaluation of your property tax, please visit Allobar Strategies or call (603) 333-2211.
The above information is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.