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Property-Revaluation Consultant Explains Criteria at Rotary Meeting

Aug. 3, 2007 — Location, the value of nearby properties and type of residence all play into how St. John properties are revalued, the manager for the firm handling the project told more than two dozen residents gathered Friday at a Rotary Club of St. John meeting.
Sally Powers of Bearing Point consultants was accompanied by Tax Assessor Roy Martin, who is scheduled to speak at a Rotary Club meeting Aug. 10 at the Westin Resort and Villas Beach Cafe. She also said that unfinished homes are valued at only a percentage of the completed value, a finished basement is valued at 95 percent of the value of the main living space and tacked-on buildings are valued at 90 percent.
Revaluation notices hit mailboxes this week, and many Rotary Club members and guests came with printouts of their property data in hand. The "standard" residence is the typical concrete building, usually rectangular, found all over the island, Powers said.
"It's what you see most around you," she said.
The categories start with "Caribbean cottage," a small wooden one-story house. "Custom homes" are of higher quality, with better building materials, higher ceilings and a lot of windows. "Luxury mansions" are quite large, with expensive components such as marble and top-quality flooring.
Before the tax bills go out, values will be adjusted based on what neighboring properties sold for in 2006, Powers said.
Bordeaux resident Gary Emmons was one of the many guests in attendance.
"I want to understand what's going on with the taxes," he said. Emmons said he saw the value of his property rise from $49,500 to $645,200 for a wooden house that isn't finished.
Conventional wisdom has it that the Legislature will adjust the rate at which the taxes are assessed on the revalued properties so residents won't be forced out of their homes or off their land because of high taxes. However, Emmons isn't so sure.
"After the Legislature passed the OK on Sirenusa? I don't trust them," he said, referring to the controversial rezoning approved by the Legislature despite an outcry from St. John residents.
Some residents have complained that the data on their revaluations is incorrect.
Powers said property owners should call or come by her office to address the issue. The St. John office is staffed from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, but Powers said people can make an appointment for Mondays and Wednesdays.
The office staff will be focused on the revaluation data until Aug. 17, but people who don't get their complaints in before then won't be out of luck, she said. Her office is setting up an e-mail address to help handle the concerns.
For more information, visit vipropertyrevaluation.com.
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