Councilors, residents question latest property assessments in Glocester

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In video from the meeting, Raymond Watts is seen speaking before the Town Council.

GLOCESTER – Glocester residents brought a number of complaints about recent reassessments, and what they referred to as unequal treatment of properties to the recent Town Council meeting. They blamed the assessing agency hired to perform reevaluations, Vision Government Solutions, for the problem.

“We’re not the only town that is having this problem,” Council President William Worthy told NRI NOW. “We need Vision to take some sort of accountability. What that looks like, I have no idea.”

At the meeting, Raymond Watts, a resident for more than 60 years, explained that his assessment rose over $200,000 from last year’s evaluation though he had made no improvements whatsoever.

“The only improvements I saw on my property I think included seven more dandelions and three more blades of grass,” he joked.

That equated to $1,400 more in taxes. His neighbor’s assessment, whose home was considerably larger, he explained, was only a few hundred dollars more. Watts added that he had previously been a realtor in town and had done appraisals and assessments himself in the past. One of the problems, he said, is that he may have been taxed as waterfront property, despite the fact there is a 20 foot buffer owned by the City of Providence between his property and the Ponaganset Reservoir, preventing him from even using it. It might be construed as “water view,” but certainly not waterfront, he said.

“There’s a big difference in price (between the two)” he added.

When he called Vision to question the reevaluation earlier this year, he thought the matter was resolved. Vision’s website advertises themselves as responding to 100 percent of calls, having the largest customer support team in the industry, and deep appraisal expertise to solve the trickiest of questions. They add that the company offers, “surprise and delight in every call.”

“I thought everything was fine,” he said. “I never got a letter. I never got a phone call. They didn’t do anything. These people were supposed to do an accurate assessment. They haven’t done that. These people should be held accountable.”

 Watts went on to say that he is one person with a problem with taxes. Next time he comes in, he added, there will be many.

“That’s not a threat,” Watts added. “It’s a promise.”

“We have some questions too, based on some of the things that have happened recently,” responded Councilor Walter Steere. “You’re not alone.”

Steere added that his taxes went up as well, more than expected.

“We’re very frustrated as well,” said Town Council Vice President Stephen Arnold. “Trust me.”

“It’s supposed to be an accurate evaluation,” said Steere. “I don’t believe it was.”

“I think we need to put a little pushback toward Vision,” Worthy said. “I can tell you they never drove up my driveway.”

Worthy added that the town has an elderly community that would like to continue residing there. A large increase in taxes doesn’t help.

Tax Assessor Jessica Parker later explained that the window is now open for residents to appeal their assessments. Residents who wish to appeal may appear in person in Town Hall, call and request an application, or email and request an application, which can be submitted until Oct. 30. Letters offering opportunities to question assessment values were originally mailed in April or March, she added.

She also said that there had been, “glitches” in the software originally supplied by Vision, who was paid $80,700 for the evaluation. Vision, she added, was totally responsible for creating the assessments, based on buyers and sellers of property in the area.

“We don’t have control over whether it goes up or down,” said Parker. “You’re not going to make everyone happy.”

Worthy told NRI NOW that he agreed it was a big problem.

“We need to find out if there is something we can do to mitigate the problem,” he said. “We’re not the only town that is having this problem. As a town council though, we can only do so much.”

Vision did not respond to emails or return phone calls from NRI NOW.

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