The grievance process is on hiatus until June 2, but news is starting to leak out about assessment adjustments that have been made by the assessor and the Board of Assessment Review. Last Sunday, when Gossips published its feature The Million-Dollar Houses of Hudson, Sam Pratt reported in a comment that City Assessor Garth Slocum had already agreed to reduce the assessment on at least one of those properties to somewhere between $800,000 and $850,000 and word has it that Eric Galloway's attorney succeeded in getting the assessment on 345 Allen Street down to $800,000. Since assessments presumably reflect market value, and there should be, therefore, some relationship among the assessments of houses located in the same neighborhood, how does a 20 percent reduction in the assessment of one house impact the assessments of the other houses on the block? Do their assessments get reduced by 20 percent, too?
Consider these scenarios. House A sold within the past two years, and its selling price--its full market value--was used to justify raising the full market value and the assessments on other nearby houses. The owner of one of those houses--House B--presents her case to the assessor, based on square footage and comparable condition, and succeeds in getting the assessment on her house reduced. Then the owner of House A goes to the BAR and gets the assessment on his house--for whatever reason--reduced. House A, which the owner of House B argued was bigger and better than hers therefore worth more, suddenly has an adjusted assessment that is not significantly different from the adjusted assessment for House B.
House C and House D are nearly identical in location, square footage, and condition. The owner of House C considers her assessment fair and does not grieve. The owner of House D does grieve and gets his assessment lowered by 40 percent.
The owner of House E uses Houses F and G as comparables to get his assessment reduced by 30 percent. Meanwhile, the owner of House G gets her assessment reduced by 20 percent, making her adjusted assessment lower than the adjusted assessment for House E.
It's been suggested that assessment adjustments be published as they are made. Difficult as it may seem to implement (and potentially even more chaotic for property owners trying to monitor them on grievance day), it does seem that greater transparency about what is happening between the tentative roll and the final roll is necessary if Hudson is to achieve the goal of fair assessments for all.