I-Team: Overvaluation on property assessments

I-Team

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP)- Bob Hendrickson has been living at the same home on End Street in Springfield for almost 13 years.

After acquiring a lot next to his house, the assessed value of his property increased by nearly $30,000.

“They took a piece of property that was valued at 1300 dollars and sent us an evaluation for 30,500 dollars,” said Hendrickson. “

He told the I-Team he can’t build anything on this lot, because the city’s storm drain system runs underneath it.

“How you change the designation for a property from non-developable to developable without a public hearing, or notifying the abutters is beyond me,” said Hendrickson. “But they did it and told us they had the right to do that.”

Springfield’s Board of Assessors couldn’t tell us exactly why the assessed value of his property increased by that much, but they said they always follow the state regulations when evaluating properties.

“The assessors role is to make sure the value is accurate and the mayor and city council are responsible for setting the tax rate,” said Richard Allen

Allen said the Department of Revenue has strict regulations for property assessments. There are several factors that they must consider.

“We have on our records information related to the age of each property, the size of it, the style, the condition,” said Allen.

Hendrickson applied for an abatement citing overvaluation on the property assessment. He received the refund but realized that he was missing the interest money. The 22News I-Team found out 48 Springfield residents like Hendrickson were never paid their interest money from the city. The city’s treasurer Stephen Lonergan told the I-Team mistakes like this are rare, but they will pay back the 264 dollars in owed interest money to the taxpayers immediately.

“We don’t feel the taxpayer should be out anything because of an error on our part,” said Stephen Lonergan, Treasurer for the city of Springfield. “We try to be perfect and try to get everything correct, but with technology and human error general, we may not.”

Lonergan said they’ll add another layer of review to prevent this mistake from happening again.
You earn 8 percent interest on abatements, but he said there are exceptions to that. If you owe money on another city tax like an excise bill, the interest will be applied to that instead.

If you think your property was overvalued, you should check to see if you can still apply for a property tax abatement in your community. The application deadline in Springfield for the 2020 fiscal year was Monday, February 3rd.

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