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Abatement approvals trending high this year.

Byline: Nick Kotsopoulos

WORCESTER - A little more than half of the abatement applications acted on by the assessor's office through July 5 have been approved, thus lowering the assessed valuations and annual tax bills for those property owners.

City Assessor William J. Ford said about 180 property abatements have been granted and processed through July 5, totaling about $255,000. He said another 59 abatements have been approved and are being processed.

At the same time, 219 abatement applications have been denied, Mr. Ford said.

The assessor said his office received 2,395 real estate abatement applications, which is considerably more than the city had received in recent years.

In fiscal 2011, the city received 1,257 abatement applications in which property owners contested their assessed valuations, while in fiscal 2010 the city received 1,432 applications, and in fiscal 2009 it received 1,784.

In 2009, 844 abatements were granted, totaling $708,648. The number of abatements approved that year was less than 50 percent of the total applications that were filed.

Meanwhile, 483 abatements totaling $457,117 were approved in 2010, and 277 totaling $702,389 were approved in fiscal 2011. In both those years, the number of abatements approved ran less than 30 percent of the number of applications.

The city assessor must act on an abatement application within three months of the date of its filing, unless the applicant agrees in writing before the three-month period expires to extend it. If the assessor does not act on the abatement application within 90 days, it is deemed denied.

Of all the abatement applications received by the assessor's office for the new property assessments, Mr. Ford said 1,615 were for residential properties, 721 for commercial, industrial and apartment properties and 59 for mixed-use properties. In addition, 150 abatement applications were filed for personal property values.

In a report to the City Council, Mr. Ford said that through July 5 assessors had inspected 674 of the properties it had received abatement applications for.

Of that number, he said, 374 have been reviewed and processed and a final decision has been made by an assessor (263 residential; 98 commercial, industrial or apartment; and 13 mixed-use).

He said 60 more property inspections have been scheduled.

City officials had anticipated an influx of abatement applications from commercial and industrial property owners because of dramatic increases in their assessed valuations. Of the city's 2,278 commercial parcels, the assessed valuations for 317 went up 10 percent to 20 percent; 498 went up 20 percent to 40 percent; and 540 went up 40 percent to 100 percent. Meanwhile, the valuations of 174 commercial properties have increased by more than 100 percent.

Of the 598 industrial properties in the city, the assessed valuations of 58 of those properties increased by 10 percent to 20 percent; 98 properties went up by 20 percent to 40 percent and 101 properties shot up 40 percent to 100 percent. In addition the assessed valuations of 60 industrial properties have more than doubled. In comparison, residential property assessments decreased by 3.8 percent compared with the previous year.

Anticipating there would be an increase in the number of abatement applications, the city has hired KRT Appraisals to assist with the review and interior inspection of residential properties. Mr. Ford said that frees up in-house staff to focus on commercial and industrial properties.
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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jul 17, 2012
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