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Nashua, should you open your door?

The measure and list for all Nashua properties is starting now. All residents are being asked to open their doors and allow Vision Government Solutions entry to perform an inspection of the interior and exterior of the property. State law allows residents to say no to entry and still appeal their property values through an abatement process should they feel that the new assessment is not fair. So, the question is, should you open your door? I believe you should not and here’s why.

Currently, there is a system in place for the property card changes whereby our assessors visit a property with a copy of the card, pencil mark-up the copy based on data changes they view, input the changes into the system in City Hall, then staple the marked up copy to the new updated copy and file in the property record file. This becomes a public record for any Nashua citizen to review.

KRT, the previous contracted company, followed this same process in the past as will Vision now, but here’s the kicker: the legal office has taken the position that these marked-up paper copies, which under law must be returned to the city, cannot be viewed by the public. The city is claiming these notes are draft documents and excluded from RSA 91-A right-to-know requests. This is being contested in court.

So, what’s the big deal? The audit trail for changes to property cards is no longer available to public. It’s not just a problem for individual homeowners who might want to abate any changes. This also has implications on how the public is able to hold the assessing office accountable.

As the city promotes this measure and list as a solution to all our problems, there is a lot data in these marked-up cards that allows us to see whether their claims are true. How many homes were actually entered? How many new properties were found that had not been adequately assessed in the past? How many dimension errors were captured?

In this position, we have no ability to verify how changes are made and conclusions are drawn. It leaves us totally dependent on the city’s method and word. It’s my position that our taxes shouldn’t be left to this alchemy. Is it reasonable for us to open our home, when the city wants to hide documentation from us?