Francestown officials address resident revaluation concerns

Francestown’s historic Town Hall, the former Francestown Academy. 

Francestown’s historic Town Hall, the former Francestown Academy.  STAFF PHOTO BY JESSECA TIMMONS

By JESSECA TIMMONS

Monadnock Ledger Transcript 

Published: 06-20-2024 12:01 PM

Modified: 06-25-2024 11:26 AM


In response to questions from town residents about the town’s current property reassessment, the Francestown Select Board spent much of Monday night’s meeting discussing and clarifying the assessment process.

“Our last revaluation was in 2019, and what we are seeing is that property values on average are up 86%,” Town Administrator Jamie Pike said.  “A lot of people have come to ask me about this process and are concerned their taxes are going to be a lot higher, but that is not always the case when values go up, because when the values go up, the rate goes down.” 

Francestown’s tax rate in 2023 was $27.88 per $1,000 assessed valuation. According to Pike,  based on the rising assessed values of Francestown properties in the current market, the rate for 2024 will drop to about $14.89 per thousand. Pike said that the purpose of the revaluation is to “get as close to market value as possible.” 

Select Board Chair Scott Heath said that typically,  after a property reassessment, a third of the tax bills stay the same, a third go up and a third go down. Pike estimated that as a result of  the higher property values and the lower tax rate, the average tax bill in Francestown  will be about 2% higher than in 2023.

“So if your property taxes were about $5,000, your tax bill will probably be about $5,300 to $5,500 this year,” Pike said.

Spring tax bills are based on an estimate of what the upcoming 2024 tax rate will be. Towns typically do not receive their tax rate from the state until late October or even early November, depending on when property assessments and budgets come in. Once the tax rate is set, residents can determine their fall tax bill by multiplying the assessed value of their home by the tax rate and subtracting exemptions or deductions such as veterans’ tax credits.

Pike noted the the current revaluation is based on market analysis, data assessment and “spot checks,” and that the next complete reassessment, including physical inspection of every property, will be in 2029. Heath said, “A lot of people have come to see us and have been concerned about the revaluation.”

“What people need to understand is that the Select Board has very little control over the tax rate. We only control the municipal rate,” Heath said. “The highest cost of the tax bill is state and local education. The County Board of Commissioners sets their rate. State education had a 9.5% increase in 2023. We have very little control. We understand that not everyone is our town is wealthy. We understand there are people in Francestown struggling to pay their bills,  including their property taxes. We’re worked hard to keep the municipal portion of the tax rate at just a 2% increase.”

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In response to questions about  the potential for inflated assessments, Pike and the members of Select Board all recommended that property owners with concerns contact Avatar, which does the assessments for Francestown.

“I highly encourage anyone with questions about their assessment to make an appointments with Avatar and talk to them directly,” Pike said. “Not a lot of the appointments have been taken.”