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Exposing the Flaws: The Unconstitutional Property Revaluation Process in NH"

Let's take a look at the seacoast town of Hampton in this regard.


In Hampton, NH, a significant issue is brewing regarding the townwide property revaluation process. Recent statements made by members of the Hampton Board of Selectmen and the town assessor have falsely equated a full revaluation with a statistical update. This misrepresentation not only misleads residents but also highlights a broader problem with the revaluation process itself, which is fundamentally unconstitutional and unfair.


Understanding Revaluation Types

The New Hampshire Department of Revenue defines four general types of revaluation activities:

  1. Full Revaluation: A complete on-site review of all municipal properties, starting anew.

  2. Partial Revaluation: A review of certain properties or areas within the municipality.

  3. Cyclical Revaluation: A phased approach where portions of the municipality are revalued each year.

  4. Statistical Update: An update based on market trends and data, rather than physical inspections.


A full revaluation, as outlined, involves a comprehensive reassessment of all properties from the ground up. In contrast, a statistical update relies on recent sales data to adjust property values, often resulting in increased property taxes due to rising market prices.


The Problem with Statistical Updates

The last full revaluation in Hampton occurred over a decade ago, with the most recent statistical update in 2019. During this update, property values surged based on market conditions. For example, a north beach resident saw their condo's value increase by $200,000, significantly raising their tax burden without a corresponding physical reassessment of the property.


Constitutional Violations

The New Hampshire State Constitution mandates a proper valuation of estates anew every five years. According to Part II, Article 6:

“And there shall be a valuation of the estates within the state taken anew once in every five years, at least, and as much oftener as the general court shall order.”

This constitutional requirement specifies a comprehensive revaluation, not a mere statistical adjustment based on market trends. The term "anew" implies a fresh, thorough examination of all properties, not just a cursory update.

Moreover, Part II, Article 90 reinforces that laws and practices must align with constitutional rights and liberties:

“All the laws which have heretofore been adopted, used, and approved, in the state of New Hampshire, and usually practiced on in the Courts of Law, shall remain and be in full force, until altered and repealed by the Legislature; such parts thereof only excepted, as are repugnant to the rights and liberties contained in this Constitution.”


The Call to Action

The Department of Revenue Administration (DRA) and local government officials must uphold the NH State Constitution, which clearly mandates a full revaluation of properties every five years. Statistical updates, which do not involve a comprehensive reassessment, are insufficient and unconstitutional.


As Hampton taxpayers, it is their right and duty to demand transparency and adherence to the constitutional requirement for a full revaluation. The statistical update method is a convenient tool for increasing property taxes without ensuring the fairness and accuracy mandated by our state constitution.


Conclusion

These flaws have a tendency to oust longstanding taxpayers from their NH homes.


The revaluation process in NH, as it stands, is fundamentally flawed and unconstitutional. The reliance on statistical updates undermines the principles of fair taxation and transparency. It is imperative that Hampton performs a full revaluation, as required by the NH State Constitution, to ensure that property taxes are fair and just.


Taxpayers should not accept any increases resulting from unconstitutional statistical updates. We must hold our local government accountable and demand a complete, constitutionally compliant revaluation process. Only then can we restore fairness and integrity to our property tax system.



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