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Lyme going through its first reval in 25 years

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CHAUMONT — Waterfront property owners and some farmers in Lyme should be seeing a hefty increase in their assessments because of the recent revaluation, according to the town’s chief assessor.

“We haven’t had a revaluation in 25 years,” said Marsha J. Barton, Lyme’s chief assessor. “There was a lot of inequity. And the purpose of the reassessment is to make sure everybody’s paying their fair share.”

Town property owners should be receiving informal assessment notices in the mail reflecting preliminary changes. Tentative assessment rolls are due out May 1.

Many waterfront residents will see their assessments jump fivefold, even sevenfold in some cases, but this does not mean their taxes would increase by the same proportion.

The local tax rate for the town, county and school district combined is projected to decrease to $16.15 per $1,000 of assessed value — from roughly $55 per $1,000 — and the new assessment values should closely match what their properties are worth on the market, Mrs. Barton said.

“What they’re assessed for is what they’ll be able to sell the property for,” she said.

Lyme’s overall equalization rate is at 31 — most likely the lowest equalization rate in Jefferson County, Mrs. Barton said. The equalization rate is a figure set by the state that reflects the percentage of full value of the average assessment in the town. Thus, the state has determined Lyme’s assessments are at 31 percent of full value.

The state recommends that the equalization rate be at full market value.

Roughly 3,400 parcels were re-evaluated by town assessors and county appraisal aides and technicians assisted by state staff since the middle of last summer. County staff appraised Lyme properties owned by town assessors, such as the three parcels in Chaumont that Mrs. Barton owns, to avoid any conflicts of interest.

“We did not do our own assessments,” Mrs. Barton said. “It’s really as fair and impartial as we can make it.”

Residents can set up meetings with local assessors if they wish to discuss their tentative assessments.

Grievance day is May 28.

If residential property owners are unhappy with their assessments after appealing to local assessors, they can ask the town’s Board of Assessment Review to adjust their assessments on Grievance Day, The next step would be to take their cases to small claims court. But commercial property owners must make their case in state Supreme Court.

To set an appointment with a town assessor, call 649-2387.

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