Listers

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Three listers are elected, one a year, to overlapping three-year terms. 17 V.S.A. §§ 2646(5), 2649. A town may vote to elect up to two additional listers. 17 V.S.A. § 2649.

Listers are responsible for determining the value of the real and personal property in town. This is the value the selectboard or the town will use to set a tax rate necessary to raise the money to operate the town in the next year. It is also the basis for the determination of the property wealth of the municipality for purposes of setting state education property taxes.

The statutes give very little guidance to listers other than stating that they should, on April 1 of every year, determine the "fair market value" of the personal and real property and set it in the grand list book at 1% of that value. 32 V.S.A. § 3482. Agricultural and forest land enrolled in the Use Value Program is assessed differently.

One section of the statutes and several court cases give some guidance in determining the appraisal value of a property. It is the price the property would bring in the market when offered for sale and purchased by another, taking into consideration the following:

  • Availability of the property;
  • Its potential and prospective use;
  • Any functional deficiencies;
  • Its age and condition; and
  • The effect of any state or local law or regulation affecting the use of the land (such as zoning) (32 V.S.A. § 3481).
    This is called Fair Market Value.

Personal property valuation is based on inventory forms sent to taxpayers. Business personal property is no longer taxable for school purposes, and municipalities may vote to repeal that tax on the municipal side in order to maintain consistency with the school tax side. 32 V.S.A. §§ 4001–4009.

Whenever listers alter a valuation, they must notify the affected taxpayer of the changes and of his or her right to a hearing to appeal the listers’ initial decision. 32 V.S.A. §§ 4111, 4221.

Under provisions of Act 60, listers must calculate the value of the "homestead" (that is, a house, attached garage, and two acres) separately for each property.

Listers may, with the approval of the selectboard, or by vote of the town, employ expert assistance (and many do when reappraising properties). 32 V.S.A. § 4041.

For further information, see the Lister’s Handbook, published by the state Division of Property Valuation and Review.