No Praise on Appraisal
Letter to the Editor, Hollis Brookline Journal, March 29, 2002
To the Editor:
Reassessment has created a controversy. The process cost $225,000 and the services of Vision Appraisal Technology of Massachusetts. Whether you agree or not, the issue is what are our rights? The town has not issued adequate information relative to our right of refusal, trying to have us believe the process is mandatory and participation "required."
Two attempts to enter my residence by appraisers were answered with my same response, that I was not interested in participation, and any improvements can be found by checking with the town building inspector and reviewing the required permits. I was told "the inspection was for my benefit and not participating would likely result in a tax increase." Other residents have told me of similar experiences. In one case, the inspector started to look into the windows when the owner would not let them inside. This is an invasion of privacy.
I was then met by yet another attempt. This came as an official mail, which stated the following, "the town of Hollis is in the process of collecting data for the 2002 Property Revaluation. This process requires that all dwellings within the town be measured and inspected." I believe this particular language is inaccurate. The correct statement should be, "Although this process is not required, the town would like your cooperation."
I did call Vision Appraisal Technology. There I was told that if I did not participate, "I would give up my right to an appeal in the abatement process." I asked if this was still the United States of America. The last time I checked, even the police cannot enter residences without a court order. I do have all rights of appeal for criminal and civil matters up to and including the Supreme Court. I asked who authorized the mailing, and was told that the Assessor's office wrote and/or approved the mailer.
I called the Assessor's office to express my concern and spoke with Cathy Hallsworth. Ms. Hallsworth did understand and apologized for the annoyance and offered to write a letter to the newspaper to explain our rights and requirements. This has yet to take place.
My intent on writing is to inform you of your rights, and to let you see a glimpse of the direction in which the town is going. If you are bothered as I am, you should speak up and, more importantly, speak out.