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State official explains revaluation of property at Portsmouth meeting

By KIMBERLEY HAAS
Union Leader Correspondent

October 16. 2017 10:15PM
Stephan Hamilton from the state's Department of Revenue Administration spoke at the Portsmouth city council meeting Monday night. (KIMBERLEY HAAS/Union Leader Correspondent)

PORTSMOUTH — A state official from the New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration answered questions at Monday’s city council meeting about a recent revaluation of residential and commercial property.

Residents and commercial property owners have expressed concerns that their taxes will increase as a result of the dramatic increase in property values.

Stephan Hamilton, the director of the municipal and property division, said Portsmouth is not the only community that has had dramatic ups and downs in the past 20 years.

When he was a commercial assessor in Manchester, there was a steep increase in property values from 2001 to 2006, he said.

Hamilton said that in Salem, where he lives, the market went up at the same time and then took a sharp downward turn.

Hamilton said every town and city is mandated to revalue property values every five years, unless assessors see a dramatic shift in values.

City Councilor Chris Dwyer asked specifically about commercial revaluation.

Hamilton said commercial revaluation is harder to understand than residential revaluation because those buildings are purchased by investors who have different end goals than home buyers.

“They’re not buying with their heart, or for design. They’re buying for economic performance,” Hamilton said. “They’re investors, and they are there to invest in properties to get a rate of return.”

Hamilton said determining commercial property values can be elusive because the properties typically don’t change hands often and they include many variables, such as fixtures and equipment.

Hamilton said that his data suggests that both residential and commercial property values in Rockingham County went up from 2015 to 2016. Last year’s data is not yet available.

According to Judie Belanger, director of finance for the city of Portsmouth, the ratio of the city’s property assessed valuation dropped to 88.5 percent of market value in 2014, sparking a revaluation.

In the 2016 tax year, the assessed valuation was 86.6 percent compared to market value, leading to the latest revaluation, Belanger said at a recent city council meeting.

Assessed values must be between 90 and 110 percent of market values, Hamilton said.


Portsmouth Local and County Government


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