Three member Andover board talks reappraisal, short term rentals Emergency services contract on hold for new board

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2022 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Andover’s three member select board meets on Monday. Images courtesy of Okemo TV

Recent meetings of the Andover Select Board have tended to be contentious, but the Feb. 14 meeting saw the now three-member board agreeing on most everything that came up. And with three members remaining after two recent resignations, there was no room for disagreement. That’s because with a board set up to be five members, a three member meeting must vote unanimously to pass anything.

Board chair Chris Plumb and members Scott Kendall and Maddy Bodin quickly decided to put the $42,124 budget surplus (from 2020-21) toward reducing taxes in the 2022-23 fiscal year, agreed to hire an attorney to help with tax collection measures including tax sales and accepted a bid from Cota & Cota to supply propane for the Town Office generator.

In other business, the board heard from Listers Leo and Francesca Salazar who said that one of the numbers that the state uses to determine the town’s tax rate is “out of whack.”

Leo Salazar said that the problem is with the town’s “coefficient of dispersion,” which according to Vermont’s tax glossary is a measure of how uniformly the properties in a town are appraised compared with fair market value.  When all properties are appraised according to the same percentage of fair market value the score is zero. When the deviation from uniform appraisal is above 20 percent, the town must do a reappraisal. According to Salazar, Andover’s COD is above 22.

Andover Lister Leo Salazar explains the need for a reappraisal

The problem with that is funding. The state gives Andover about $5,000 per year to set aside for reappraisal, but because Andover did a reappraisal in 2018 it only has $15,143.93 in its reappraisal fund. The Salazars say that the cost of a reappraisal would be somewhere between $62,000 and $84,000 so the board would have to budget for the shortfall. The listers said that a $35,000 “statistical reappraisal” could be done, but not if it’s put off too much longer.

The town will shortly be notified that it needs to reappraise and Leo Salazar said that they would reply that Andover intends to do so, but once that’s done, it would not have to be done immediately. In fact, The Telegraph has reported that other area towns – including Weston – have found that appraisal firms are booked several years in advance. That will give the board time to bank more state funds and budget for the remaining amount.

The Salazars also said that town tax maps have not been updated since 2017 and are now out-of-date. The Select Board would also have to budget for that work as well.

Short term rental question continues

Plumb turned the board’s attention to short-term rentals and noted that there had been some research into how other towns are handling their regulation. He pointed to Killington, which notifies property owners how many people can be allowed to use the property based on the size of septic systems. The town then polices the properties by seeing what they claim as occupancy on their AirBnB or VRBO listings.

Zoning board member Gary Lundberg, left, speaks about other towns’ approach to regulating short term rentals

“The one thing we don’t have in our zoning regulations is a definition for short-term rentals,” said Gary Lundberg who sits on the town’s zoning board. He said that’s something that Killington has done and he asked if the zoning board could begin the process of doing that.

Bodin suggested that Lundberg get in touch with Mt. Ascutney Regional Planning for help with that.

Lundberg also said that other towns require an annual registration to make sure that properties are in compliance with issues like fire regulations. It was suggested that there be annual fees to cover inspections and processing.

Plumb said Killington has “an awesome website” with information on the town and state regulations.

Emergency services response on hold for next board

The board intended to discuss the contract for emergency services with Chester in an executive session, but several of those in attendance in person and on Zoom objected to that, saying that it was important for them to know what the board was doing. Several people who are running for the three open seats on the board asked that the topic be postponed until after the election and Plumb did not think the town of Chester would object to that.

The next time the topic will be discussed will be at the organizational meeting of the new board with three new members on March 14.



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