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Vermont is trying to bolster its ranks of assessors to reappraise homes

An image showing seven toy homes standing atop stacks of coins, indicating rising values of the homes. The tallest stack of coins, to the left of the frame, has a hand holding a magnifying glass in front the home atop the coin column, indicating an assessment of the home's value.
Tinnakorn Jorruang
A surging real estate market led to mandatory reappraisals for homes in about two-thirds of Vermont towns and cities.

Vermont's state government is working to bolster its pipeline of listers and assessors to reappraise property across the state.

Last year Vermont passed a law known as Act 68 that requires municipalities to reassess all properties on a regular schedule. However, it can be hard for local officials to find trained assessors to do the work.

An assessor is hired by a municipality to determine the fair market value of the properties in the town or city. The value is then converted into an assessment, which is part of what determines your property tax bills.

"I think it's actually a really interesting field," said Jill Remick, the director of property valuation and review for Vermont’s Department of Taxes. "We offer free training for all listers and assessors in Vermont. And then also there are a lot of really good online and in person courses put on from things like the International Association of Assessing Officials or the Appraisal Institute. So if folks are interested there are definitely those paths."

Remick said some appraisers are scheduling out to 2028 because there are not enough firms or people to do the work. She hopes the new reappraisal calendar cycle will help assessors schedule ahead and develop more predictable workloads.

Spencer Potter, the owner of Vermont Municipal Assessor, has been in the business since 1990.

"I'm as busy as I can be right now. I'm at my maximum with seven different towns." Potter said he's booked through 2027.

Assessors typically apprentice under someone or serve as a trainee while they learn new skills.

Remick said one challenge to the pipeline is the fact that many assessors learned the trade from a family member. If you're not part of a family business, you might not know that it's an available career path.

"It's neat in Vermont. There's actually a lot of folks that are multigenerational reappraisal firms," she said. "That's how they find out about it."

Her department is trying to attend more job fairs across the state to boost awareness of the trade.

Broadcast live on Monday, May 20, 2024, at noon; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.

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Mikaela Lefrak is the host and senior producer of Vermont Edition. Her stories have aired nationally on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition, Marketplace, The World and Here & Now. A seasoned local reporter, Mikaela has won two regional Edward R. Murrow awards and a Public Media Journalists Association award for her work.