2011 Revaluation Program
This article is the second in a series that will educate the taxpayers of Medford Township concerning all aspects of revaluation and demystify a process that causes great apprehension. The first article gave an overview of why a revaluation is necessary and why the Burlington County Board of Taxation ordered the implementation of a municipal-wide revaluation. Bids were received and Appraisal Systems, Inc. provided the lowest competent bid for the specified revaluation services. After careful scrutiny of the contract by all parties, the contract has been fully executed by Appraisal Systems, Inc., Medford Township and the Director of the Division of Taxation. The Burlington County Board of Taxation was also provided a complete copy of the executed contract for their review. On March 7th, the first reading of Ordinance 2011-7 authorizing the emergency appropriation of funds to perform the revaluation was approved by Medford Mayor and Council. Presently, representatives of Appraisal Systems, Inc. (ASI) has met with the Assessor’s Office in order to acquire the necessary materials and review the procedures under which the revaluation will be conducted. Materials necessary include: tax maps of the entire Township, road maps, zoning ordinance, flood, water and sewer maps, wetlands maps and inventory, tax list containing block and lot numbers, lot sizes and ownership records; including sale dates and prices.
Appraisal Systems, Inc. will soon begin to interact with the Medford community and individual businesses and taxpayers. Following, is an outline of chronological events that you can expect.
* Homeowners associations, civic groups, colony clubs will receive an invitation (where Medford Township has contact information for the group or association) to arrange a speaking engagement with a representative of ASI and Gil Goble, Assessor of Medford Township. A Request by an Organization form has been developed and will be mailed to known organizations. Organizations not receiving the request form may proceed to the Tax Assessor tab on our website www.medfordtownship.com to print and submit the form. Public relations have always been considered a hallmark of the Assessor’s Office and are considered a critical aspect to the success of the revaluation.
* Each and every owner of real property in Medford shall receive from ASI an introduction letter and a brochure explaining the revaluation process and addressing general questions asked by property owners. ASI maintains an excellent website that displays information relevant to the revaluation process, including an expanded list of questions and answers. We encourage you to make use of this valuable resource. The website address is: www.asinj.com
* Seven to ten (7–10) days before a field inspector begins inspections in your specific neighborhood, property owners will receive a postcard alerting them that the field inspector will begin measuring and inspecting properties in that neighborhood. Medford Township Police will be notified as to the neighborhood being inspected and which field inspector will be working in that neighborhood. ASI’s website will also list the field inspector assigned to that neighborhood. All ASI employees will have been subject of fingerprinting and background check by Medford Township Police and appropriate data bases. Each field inspector will carry a letter of introduction prepared by Medford Township, the Assessor’s Office and approved by Medford Police/Public Safety Department. Each field inspector will also carry an identification card produced by the Medford Township Police with a photograph of the field inspector on a background of Medford Township. We believe that we have taken all necessary steps to safeguard your safety and security. However, if you have any question regarding the authenticity of the documents produced or the identity of the field inspector, you are instructed to call Medford Township Police at 609-654-7511 before you allow the field inspector access to the interior of your home.
* After you receive the postcard announcing the beginning of field inspections in your neighborhood, a field inspector will arrive at your property between the hours of 9:00 AM and 6:00 PM (9:00 AM – 5:00 PM is typical) Monday – Saturday. The field inspector will immediately knock on your door and announce his/her arrival and present the appropriate credentials enumerated above. The field inspector will measure and inspect the exterior of all buildings (structures including home, garage(s), sheds, decks, patios, terraces and inground swimming pools, and outbuildings) both interior and exterior. The field inspector will ask permission to inspect the interior of your home or commercial property. It is important that the field inspector fully inspect the interior, including the basement, the entire first, second, third floors, including half-stories and attics. The field inspector will not inspect attics with drop down stairs or scuttle access to attics. Basements with a degree of finish must be physically measured to determine the square footage of the finished area. Half-stories also require measurement to determine the square foot of livable area. If the field inspector does not visually inspect the entire interior, (including basement, garage area and half-story) you are instructed to immediately call the Assessor’s Office at 609-654-2608, Ext.: 304. The revaluation contract specifically details penalty assessments against ASI for each instance where the field inspector does not fully inspect the interior.
* It is important to note that the property owner does not have to allow the field inspector access to the interior of their home (refuse interior inspection), however the law also states that the field inspector/tax assessor may assume the best of amenities and quality features. It is the policy of the Assessor’s Office that if an interior inspection is refused by the property owner, the property owner will receive a letter from the Assessor’s Office requesting an interior inspection by Gil Goble, Assessor. If the property owner continues to refuse inspection, the Assessor will estimate the interior amenities including finished basement and number of bathrooms that could be present in the subject property. This protects the homeowners that allow a complete interior inspection. It has also been the policy of the Burlington County Board of Taxation that should a tax appeal be filed by the property owner who has not permitted an interior inspection, the appeal hearing will be suspended until an interior inspection is allowed. Field inspectors are trained to quickly inspect the physical features on the interior of the home in a way that is not an invasion of privacy. The purpose of the interior inspection is to determine the physical amenities that influence value in the eyes of the typical buyer. The field inspector is also trained to observe and record negative aspects that would cause the typical buyer to pay less for the property. The property owner is encouraged to briefly list any aspects that in the property owner’s opinion would or could reduce the price paid by a prospective buyer. A copy of that list should be given to the field inspector, retaining a copy of the list for your records. A partial list is included below:
< wooden or steel powerline easements
< location on a busy or heavily travelled road frontage
< unusual wetlands or areas of intense flooding
< direct proximity to commercial or industrial properties
< unusual interior floor layouts
< old or obsolete kitchens and bathrooms
< unusually wet basements or crawl spaces
< old or obsolete heating and cooling systems
< unusual settlement and /or foundation cracks (not cosmetic)
< leaking roof that has caused interior damage
< leaking plumbing pipes or fixtures that have caused interior damage
< observed physical hazards
< observable mold infestations
< observed friable asbestos on walls, ceilings or heating pipes
< other items not listed above, but that would negatively influence the value of the
property if placed on the market. (paint and old carpeting are considered
The presence of the above conditions should be visually inspected and logged by the field inspector when presented by the property owner during the interior inspection.
* Exterior photograph(s) will be taken of all dwellings. Commercial and industrial properties will have a photograph taken of each structure found on the property.
* If the property owner is not at home when the field inspector arrives for the first time, the field inspector will leave a card specifying a return date to perform an interior inspection. The notice will also contain a telephone number to call and reschedule the appointment if the time and date is not convenient. In any case, the field inspector will measure and inspect the exterior of the property on the first visit. The return inspection date must not be on the same day as the first visit to your property. It would be typical to arrange for the second inspection in the evening between 6:00 PM and 9:00 PM or on a Saturday between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM.
* If the property owner misses the second inspection date, the field inspector will leave a card detailing when the third and final inspection attempt will take place. The Assessor will be notified after the third and final attempt for inspection fails to take place. The Assessor will then notify the property owner that the property will be estimated by the Assessor.
This article contains a large volume of information detailing the contract specifications concerning the revaluation procedure. Please refer to this article as a source document during the inspection process. The next article in this series will detail the valuation process and the notification of all property owners as required by law.