by Ed Naile

Is somebody taking their bat and glove home from the game?
What, the rules changed and suddenly we don’t want to play any more? Tsk, tsk.

Everything was peachy and keen when certain people made up the rules, but just as soon as the going gets tough…well you know the rest.

Check this out. Taxpayers just got a check in their ‘win’ column when it comes to property taxes. The bad boy of the Assessing Standards Board seems to have finally caught on to what happens when taxpayers catch on – you get kicked to the curb.

Avitar Associates of New England, Inc.
A Municipal Services Company
Betsy Patten, Chair Assessing Standards Board
c/o NH Dept of Revenue Admin
Attn: Dawn Calley P.O. Box 457
Concord, NH 03302
March 31, 2006
Re: Resignation

Dear Betsy:
I am writing as I have officially submitted my resignation to Tom Holmes, President of the NHAAO, as they are the parties responsible for my nomination.

I have thoroughly enjoyed working as a member of the ASB until recently. It appears the original focus of the Board is lost. Previously, the Board ran like a well-oiled machine, yet lately that is not the case. I believe this is due to the recent amount of media attention focused on assessing issues, ie: “The View Tax”. The ASB is now merely a public/DRA/political forum.

I was astounded at the last meeting, when DRA members, not on the ASB were the driving force behind the decision-making. On several occasions, you specifically asked Scott Dickman whether something should remain or not. There was not enough Board discussion or voting. I believe I am not alone in the concerns I have mentioned.

My prior two terms were excellent and knowing and working with you was a pleasure. I believe an ASB meeting is not the proper forum for taxpayers to bring their specific abatement or appeals to. Taxpayers should be urged to follow the established processes in place, ie: abatement, appeal to BTLA or Superior Court. By lending an ear to taxpayer specific concerns, you have essentially changed the original intent of the Board, while only hearing one tainted side.

I have not notified the Governor or Governor’s Council, as I did not have their support anyway.
Betsy, it has been a pleasure knowing and working with you, but our current push to adopt USPAP and the forum in which we are doing it is uncomfortable for me, particularly where it is directed at assessing companies.

Gary J. Roberge, Sr. Appr., CNHA CEO
150 Suncook Valley Hwy
Chichester, NH 03258

Good riddance Mr. Roberge. Don’t let the door…well you know the rest.

Since Gary Roberge, once the all powerful creator of assessing laws, is so fond of “letting it all hang out” about how the Assessing Standards Board has changed its purpose, maybe he can take some time to explain why his Computer Assisted Mass Appraisal software (well oiled machine) has so many flaws in it.

Here is my guess:

The DRA is desperate for some uniform software that can be used to asses all the property in NH. Gary Roberge seemed to be their savior when he came up with his Avitar system. The problem is that it has so many flaws it is unworkable without a constant effort to “re-engineer” it. That “re-engineering” comes at the expense of any town that was dependent on (and paid for) the Avitar system of mass reappraisal.

From sitting through Board of Tax and Land Appeals hearings and watching the way Roberge gets to walk away from bad assessments it occurred to me that he was receiving special treatment.

Then came the political heat from the “View Tax” and Gary is no longer beyond criticism. I remember writing an article not long ago hoping Gov. Lynch would reappoint Roberge to the Assessing Standards Board so Lynch could be tagged with the “View Tax.” Hmmmm.

I hope the efforts of The Coalition of NH Taxpayers in connecting the various selectmen and taxpayers all over this state affected by poor assessing, helped bring about this change. If it did it was well worth it, and just a start.

Timeline: Roberge resigns in March 2006, this article was written in May of 2006. By the time the Christian Science Monitor article of January 2007 had been written, Roberge had appeared with Laura Knoy on NHPR in November of 2006, citing the reason he resigned as: “Too many people allowed to challenge the View Tax”. He’d also written a “Your Turn” in the Concord Monitor (December 24, 2006) defending his creation of the View Tax.

New Hampshire Residents Angry Over ‘View Tax’

“ORFORD, N.H. – The one-room cabin David Bischoff built in a cow pasture three years ago has no electricity, no running water, no phone service and no driveway. What it does have is a wide-open view of nearby hills and distant mountains — which makes it seven times more valuable than if it had no view, according to the latest townwide property assessment. He expects his property taxes to shoot up accordingly.”

The unjust view tax must be stopped

“Also consider this. Avitar Associates of New England has already assessed more than half of the towns in New Hampshire, (110 at last count), a fact that Gary Roberge is most proud of. Moreover, Avitar has sold, and is currently selling its assessing software to many other towns in New Hampshire. So essentially, one company is setting the standard for how properties are assessed in the Granite State. Why is this allowed?”

NH View Tax Explained

“The Lakes Region Planning Commission (LRPC) and several guests learned Monday night about the increasing impact scenic views have on the values of homes in New Hampshire. Gary Roberge, the CEO of Avitar Associates — a firm that does assessing work for almost half the communities in the state — said his company has seen the value of properties with good views sky rocket in recent years. Several years ago, a good scenic view could add between $5,000 and $50,000 to the worth of property, he said. Now he’s seeing a first-rate view vistas raising a home’s value “as high as $300,000. . .the last five years, the values have changed drastically.””

Again Roberge claims there is no view tax:
A View on Views by Gary Roberge