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RTM OKs $634K for townwide property revaluation over the next year

The Representative Town Meeting has approved $634,000 for the revaluation of all real estate in town for the 2015 grand list. The vote was 25-2 with one abstention Tuesday night.

The process will include interior inspections and exterior measuring of more than 9,000 properties, according to Assessor Paul Friia. He said about 1,450 properties already inspected by his office won't be included in the process.

Inspections will start this month and run through the summer of 2015, according to Friia. Residents will be kept informed at the start and during the data collection process. In particular, residents will be told when inspectors are in their area, he said.

Vision Government Solutions will conduct the property revaluation, for a cost of $459,000, with $10,000 set aside for any return inspections. A consultant is also being contracted at a cost of $105,000 to help with the revaluation of commercial properties, Friia said. An additional $60,000 is being requested to pay for possible lawsuits over the newly set property values that might result, he added.

RTM member Jeffrey Weiser, District 4, who chairs the body's Finance Committee, told the RTM that "this is mandatory every 10 years," adding that "everybody will have someone knocking at their door" during the process.

That's exactly what concerned RTM member Sylina Levy, District 3. She said the process is a violation of the U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment, adding there is "no reason for anyone to be walking into" residents' homes.

"Residents won't know they can refuse to let them in," she said. "Where do you draw the line?"

Friia agreed that residents don't have to allow inspectors to enter. "It's very much your right," he said. "Everyone is free to say no." But he urged residents to say yes so that they can get an accurate accounting.

John Suggs, District 5, suggested inspectors wear an identifying badge. Other RTM members including Medha Thomas, District 3, also expressed similar concerns.

"We need to know the person at the door is legitimate," Thomas said.

Anne M. Amato

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