67th ANNUAL

MAINE PROPERTY TAX SCHOOL

UMAINE HUTCHINSON CENTER

80 BELMONT AVE (ROUTE 3) BELFAST, ME  04915

AUGUST 4 – AUGUST 8, 2014

This year, the 67th annual Maine Property Tax School will be held at the University of Maine Hutchinson Center in Belfast and will run from August 4 through August 8.  We are happy to announce that the price to attend this year's school has not increased over last year's charge.  Unless otherwise indicated, the cost to attend school is $40 per day which covers courses and most course materials, snacks at break and lunch. A weekly rate of $175 covers all of the above plus the traditional lobster bake on Monday evening.

Open to anyone with an interest in property tax administration, the school provides professional training for part-time and full-time Maine assessors as well as all others involved in appraisal and assessment in the State of Maine. This program is administered by the Property Tax Division of Maine Revenue Services through its Training & Certification Program and is designed to address the state's need for a sufficient supply of competently trained municipal tax assessors. 

Please complete the pre-registration form and return it along with payment to the Property Tax Division no later than Friday, July 18, 2014.

Registration will be held at the Hutchinson Center from 7:00 AM to 9:00 AM on Monday, August 4.  We will also have a property tax staffer available Tuesday through Friday from 7:30 AM to 9:00 AM in the reception area of the Hutchinson Center. Anyone wishing to avoid the lines on Monday morning may call Jeff Kendall at: 215-3575 any time after noon on Sunday, August 3 to make arrangements to pick up your registration packet on Sunday, August 3.

Lodging: The Belfast area has numerous hotels, motels, B & Bs and campgrounds, but you should make your reservations as early as possible.  Mention the Hutchinson Center and the property tax school to receive a discounted rate that many places offer.

A seven passenger minivan will be leaving 51 Commerce Center in Augusta Monday thru Thursday promptly at 7:00 AM. Space is limited, so anyone interested in riding the van should reserve their spot as early as possible by calling Laurie Thomas at 624-5602. 

For more information about the school, visit our web site at www.maine.gov/revenue/propertytax or call the Property Tax Division at (207) 624-5608.

COURSE DESCRIPTIONS

BASIC COURSES

The Basic and Review Courses run for four days, Monday (9:00 – 4:30), Tuesday (8:30 – 4:30), Wednesday (8:30 – 4:30) and Thursday (8:30 – 4:30).  Each Basic Course concludes with an exam on Thursday afternoon.  The CMA/CAT exam will begin at 8:00 AM on Friday, August 8 and end promptly at 4:30 PM.

            Basic Course 1 – Introduction to Property Tax Assessment. This course explores the basic concepts of property taxation and the assessment process including: the use of various recommended forms, applications and property assessment records; a discussion of important publications, reference materials and information sources; a brief overview of legal provisions; the elements of the mass appraisal process; a hands-on introduction to interpretation of deed descriptions and tax mapping; and a primer on public relations. ANYONE ATTENDING THE SCHOOL FOR THE FIRST TIME IS ENCOURAGED TO ENROLL IN THIS COURSE. (A calculator, an engineer's scale, and a 360-degree protractor are required.)  Instructors: Lou Durgin, CMA, Roland Moreau, CMA and Joe Salley, CMA, all with the Property Tax Division.  (28 CE hours)

            Basic Course 2 – Maine Property Tax Law.  A thorough review of the legal basis for property taxation in Maine, this course identifies and explains: the laws relating to assessors; Maine Revenue Services; real estate and personal property taxation; exemptions; the appeals process; current use laws; recent law changes; and more. Instructors: Ben Birch, CMA, Assessor for the City of Bangor and long-time instructor; Garnett Robinson, CMA, Appraiser, Assessor and past President of the CMAAO and Nancy Weeks, CMA with the Property Tax Division. (28 CE hours)

            Basic Course 3 – Real Estate Appraisal.  This course covers the three approaches to value, offering students a working knowledge of: building specifications and cost schedules used in the appraisal of residential, commercial and industrial buildings as well as special use structures; theory and application of depreciation and obsolescence; the market comparison approach to value; land valuation; sales ratio studies; equalization; and more.  The course also provides a brief overview of the income approach to value. The cost approach to value as taught in this course uses the 2001 State of Maine Assessment Manual. (A calculator is required.) Instructors: Steve Lemay and David Bouffard, both CMAs with the Property Tax Division. (28 CE hours)

             Review Course. The Review Course is an intensive and comprehensive treatment of all three Basic Courses. Open to all interested individuals, this course is aimed primarily at an audience who has completed the three Basic Courses and intends to sit for a certification exam on Friday, August 8.  Instructor: Jim Murphy Jr, CMA and contract assessor for several municipalities. Mike Rogers from the Property Tax Division will conduct the Maine Property Tax Law portion of this course. (28 CE hours)

ADVANCED COURSES

The morning sessions of the advanced courses run from 9:00 – 12:00 on Monday and 8:30 – 12:00 on Tuesday through Friday.  The afternoon sessions run from 1:00 - 4:30 on Monday through Thursday.  The day-long sessions run from 9:00 – 4:30 on Monday and 8:30 – 4:30 on Tuesday through Thursday. 

Advanced Course 1: Development of a Capitalization Rate (Monday – all day). This workshop will review the development of a capitalization rate for commercial real estate valuation. The financial data that is included in, and excluded from, the capitalization rate, when applied to a pro forma income statement is considered. This course will focus on the components of direct capitalization (determining gross income, estimating vacancy and credit loss, calculating effective gross income, estimating expense and estimating value). Related topics covered will include: the relationship between the income capitalization approach and other valuation approaches; the applicability and reliability of the income approach; the characteristics of direct capitalization and yield capitalization.  A basic understanding of the income approach to value or comparable completion of training similar to IAAO's Income Approach to Valuation is recommended. A financial calculator (HP12C) is useful but not mandatory. Instructor: John Ryan, CAE.  (7 CE hours) 

Advanced Course 2: Historic Maine Homes (Monday - morning). From the earliest houses the largely British settlers put up to the modern monuments of the 20th century, Maine's houses reflect the cultural history of not just Maine but of western civilization.  This program tries to answer the question "what were they thinking?" when they set out to build a house in the latest fashion. Camden architect and author Chris Glass is the instructor.  (3.5 CE hours)    

Advanced Course 3: Looking at Maine's Real Estate Market (Monday - afternoon). Martin Cates, a Rockland real estate broker with over 20 years' experience and a member of Knox County Board of Assessment Review, provides a  comprehensive look at Maine's real estate market and gives his insight regarding where the market is headed. (3.5 CE hours)

Advanced Course 4: How to Thrive as a Local Assessor (Tuesday - morning). Freeport assessor Bob Konzal draws upon his broad experience and dispenses practical advice on the trials and tribulations of being a local assessor. Topics include: dealing with the public; securing adequate funding; doing timely revaluations; use of sales data; properly managing appeals and tax increment financing tips. (3.5 CE hours)

Advanced Course 5: Natural Gas Forum (Tuesday - morning). With the arrival of natural gas to the Kennebec Valley, assessors in affected communities were faced with some new challenges in dealing with this unfamiliar technology. Mike Duguay of Summit Natural Gas will provide an overview of the industry and his company's experiences with installing the infrastructure and dealing with the various municipalities involved. Winslow Assessor Judy Mathiau will provide the municipal perspective and shed some light on how  local assessors combined their efforts in proactively tackling the issues associated with this project. (3.5 CE hours)   

Advanced Course 6: What Every Assessor Needs to Know about Code Enforcement (Tuesday - afternoon). In any municipality, a good working relationship with coworkers can make everyone's job easier. James Butler, Code Enforcement Officer for Scarborough and Livermore Falls and Tony Levesque, who wears both the assessor and code enforcement officer hats in Fort Fairfield, will share their tricks of the trade and illustrate just how assessors and code enforcement officers can mutually benefit from a strong, symbiotic relationship.  (3.5 CE hours)

Advanced Course 7: No Cost GIS for Dummies (Tuesday - afternoon). The Maine GeoLibrary Board works with multiple partners to acquire and improve the quality of geospatial data in Maine. It does this through the establishment of strategic partnerships with other state, federal, county and other agencies. This presentation will focus on how the Board has been successful in leveraging these partnerships to improve important data for communities. The GeoLibrary Orthoimagery program has saved communities and estimated $1.3 million over the last three years and it has worked with the Maine Office of GIS to digitize tax maps for dozens of communities. All of this information is provided to the public through web-based services that are accessible to the public and for community use. In this session, you will learn how to access these products with just a computer or tablet via the internet. Instructors: State GIS Manager Mike Smith, and Executive Director Maine GeoLibraryJoe Young. (3.5 CE hours)

Advanced Course 8: Evaluating Commercial Construction for Assessors (2 Days - Wednesday & Thursday) James Canestero of Knoxville, Tennessee; registered architect, certified urban planner, author and university professor presents how light industrial, office and retail buildings are assembled then may deteriorate over time.  Over 1,250 slides illustrate site improvements, structure, envelope, interior and environmental system components of commercial buildings and how these elements affect value. This seminar offers you critical skills necessary to better describe, analyze and value commercial property. After this program, you will better identify building conditions characteristics, and deficiencies, succinctly describe what you see in a property assessment report and factor your insights into the replacement cost, income capitalization and market comparable calculations. This seminar has been praised for its useful content and relevance to commercial real estate assessment. An illustrated Reference Manual will be made available for purchase. (14 CE hours) 

Advanced Course 9: Maine Chapter IAAO presents "The Assessor's Practice" – Starring Judy Mathiau and Kerry Leichtman (Wednesday – all day). Not for the seasoned assessor, this session is designed for the first time assessor, assistant or board of assessors member to assist them in day to day assessment administration. If you handle the assessing functions in a municipality (or someday hope to) and would like to gain some practical knowledge in an informal setting, this course is for you. From deeds to on-site inspections to tax exemptions, this program will cover most of the tasks and responsibilities one would face in the typical assessor's work place. (7 CE hours)

Advanced Course 10: Inside the Mind of a Professional Home Inspector (Wednesday - morning). James Dickson is a member of the National Association of Home Inspectors and owner of Cornerstone Home Inspections.  After over 20 years in building management and construction oversight, Jim has spent the past eight years performing comprehensive home inspections focusing on virtually every detail of the subject properties. In this program, he will share his insights and expertise while fielding any questions you may have.  (3.5 CE hours)

Advanced Course 11: Land Surveying, Flood Zones and Real Estate (Wednesday - afternoon). This course is designed to: educate real estate and land use professionals seeking to further their professional development; enhance client representation through an in-depth understanding of common land surveying products introduce students to the National Flood Insurance Program ("NFIP") and its widespread impact on risk assessment, insurance rates, real estate value, community requirements and permitting and design decisions.  With the NFIP's increasing fiscal instability, advances in mapping technology and policy reform, many changes are underway and will continue in the future, so it is important for all real estate and land use professionals to be well informed. The principal objective of this course is to provide students with knowledge and resources that will result in more efficient real estate transactions and municipal approvals, with less liability and confusion. Instructor: Jim Nadeau, owner of Nadeau Land Surveys. (3.5 CE hours) ***Note: This program has been approved by the Director of the Real Estate Commission for 3 continuing education hours for real estate licensees.

Advanced Course 12: Renewable Energy Showcase (Thursday – morning) Bill Morgner, co-owner of Mid-Coast Energy Systems will tell you everything you ever wanted to know about geothermal systems. After the break, John Luft from ReVision Energy will address grid-tied solar electric (photovoltaic) systems, solar hot water systems, heat pump technology for supplemental space heating and water heating, current historically low solar panel prices, financial incentives and loan programs, lowering utility bills, reducing dependence on fossil fuels and current solar technology in Maine.(3.5 CE hours)

Advanced Course 13: The Do's and Don'ts of Sales Studies (Thursday - afternoon). Saco Assessor Jim Thomas and MRS field agent Dave Bouffard will explain and demonstrate some of the different analytical tools to assist assessors to achieve and maintain that ideal 100% assessment ratio. This program will include discussions and demonstrations of the market approach to value, which is often under-utilized by assessors. Highlights will include: paired sales analysis and its use; the direct comparison of sales and the proper use of time adjustments in a sales analysis. The instructors will also explain and demonstrate different analytical tools to assist assessors in better understanding of the municipalities' sales ratio.  (3.5 CE hours)

Advanced Course 14:  Friday Morning Open Forum (Friday - morning). A perennial favorite, this course is your chance to listen and be heard. Representatives from the Property Tax Division will be on hand to field your specific questions, lead group discussions, listen to feedback, and plan for next year's school. This interactive program is open to everyone and is designed to give students a relaxed, informal opportunity to address just about anything on their mind.  The collective knowledge gathered with each attendee bringing their own personal expertise and experience to the table will be beneficial to the entire group. (3.5 CE hours)

APPRAISAL COURSES

The following courses, approved by the Appraiser Qualifications Board (AQB), qualify for CMA/CAT recertification credits as well as appraisal board credits.

2014-2015 National 7 Hour National Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) Update Course (Monday – all day). This course, developed by The Appraisal Foundation, focuses on changes to USPAP for 2014 and 2015 and on appraisal issues that affect daily appraisal practice. It is unique in that the course is developed by The Appraisal Foundation and is revised on a periodic basis to stay current with the latest edition of USPAP. In addition to the student manual, each student must have a copy of the 2014-2015 USPAP, USPAP Advisory Opinions, USPAP Frequently Asked Questions and Index for use in all USPAP courses. Please contact Dave Sawyer for information regarding these course materials.  Please add a $100 instructor's fee to the daily school tuition rate. Instructor: David G. Sawyer, Certified General Appraiser, Certified Instructor, Certified Maine Assessor and Windham assessor.  (AQB Approved: 7 QE CE)

International Association of Assessing Officers ("IAAO") Forum 917- How to Critique an Appraisal (Tuesday – all day). Discover a methodical approach to the review and critique of appraisals submitted in support of assessment reduction. You will distinguish if an appraiser acts as an advocate for the client or truly approaches the assignment as a disinterested unbiased third party. All aspects of an appraisal will be inspected to ascertain the credibility and reliability of the work submitted. Please add a $100 instructor's fee to the daily school tuition rate.  Instructor:  David G Sawyer, Certified General Appraiser, Certified Instructor, Certified Maine Assessor and Windham assessor,. (AQB Approved: 7 QE CE)

Appraisal Institute - Appraising Land Conservation Properties in Maine . . . What Appraisers (and Assessors) Should Know (Thursday – all day) This program will inform appraisers and assessors about requirements for appraising conservation transactions for land trusts and public agencies.  Some require specialized appraisal practices, such as conservation easements, donated properties and IRS rules.  Depending on the source of funding, the appraisal may need to meet more than one set of standards.  Find out why land owners enter these agreements, where the funding comes from, how land trusts and agencies select the properties to be conserved.  Class includes the 2014 new appraisal requirements of the Land for Maine's Future Board, a major source of funding.  Includes discussion with land trust representatives. Ed Meadows; CAE, Land for Maine's Future Director and approved IAAO Instructor will present this program. Please add a $110 Appraisal Institute course fee to the daily school tuition rate. (AQB Approved: 7 CE)

CERTIFICATION EXAMINATIONS

On Friday, certification exams begin promptly at 8:00 AM and end promptly at 4:30 PM, with a lunch break from 12:00 – 12:30. ALL NECESSARY REFERENCE MATERIALS WILL BE PROVIDED; only pencils and silent portable calculators will be permitted in the testing room.  CALCULATORS should be BATTERY POWERED (bring fresh batteries) or SOLAR POWERED because the availability of electrical outlets cannot be guaranteed.  Proctors may inspect calculators at any time. CELL PHONES ARE ABSOLUTELY NOT ALLOWED.  Anyone who does not attend courses at the Maine Property Tax School may register for this exam for a fee of $40, which includes catered lunch. 

There are two different Certification Exams:

         1.  CERTIFIED MAINE ASSESSOR (CMA). Part 1 of this examination is passed out first and must be completed before receiving Parts 2 - 5.  As a general rule, Part 1 of the examination requires a correct answer of one or two short sentences for twenty-five mostly multiple part questions which test the candidate's practical knowledge and ability to find answers to questions relating to property tax law. The test packet will include a law book and any other required reference material and this part of the exam has a four hour time limit. Parts 2 - 5 each contain 50 multiple choice questions which deal with general information and problem solving.  A minimum score of 70% on each part is required in order to pass the CMA exam.

         2.  CERTIFIED ASSESSMENT TECHNICIAN (CAT). This exam is not as comprehensive nor as technical as the CMA exam. This exam has five parts; each part contains 50 multiple choice questions dealing with general information and problem solving. An overall average score of 70% or better is required in order to pass the CAT exam.

For more detailed information about the certification exams, see Property Tax Bulletin No. 22 and MRS Rule 205 – Certification of Assessors or log onto: www.maine.gov/revenue/propertytax.

FEES & REGISTRATION

Please complete the enclosed registration form and return it to the Property Tax Division by Friday, July 18, 2014.  Final registration will be held at the Hutchinson Center from 7:00 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. on Monday, August 4.  We will also have Property Tax staff member available mornings during the rest of the week from 7:30 – 9:00.  Anyone wishing to avoid the lines on Monday morning may call Jeff Kendall at: 215-3575 any time after noon on Sunday, August 3 and he will make arrangements to meet you and give you your registration packet.

PAYMENT:  Full Payment is expected with submission of the registration form.  Checks or money orders are made payable to: Treasurer, State of Maine and indicate that the check is for the Maine Property Tax School. Credit cards are not accepted. If the registration form is not accompanied by full payment, the full balance of your tuition will be due when you register at the Hutchinson Center.

COMMUTER TUITION (full week): $175 includes course costs (except appraisal surcharges), catered lunch and snacks at breaks Monday through Friday, the Monday evening lobster bake, and the CMA/CAT exam.

COMMUTER TUITION (per day): $40 includes course costs (except appraisal surcharges), catered lunch and snacks at break. The Monday evening lobster bake is not included with this tuition, but may be purchased separately for $25 per person.

Please note that registration for the appraisal courses requires an additional $100 or $110 payment to cover instructors' charges.

CONFIRMATION:

As soon as your registration has been received and processed, we will send a confirmation to you via email.  If there is a problem with your registration, we will contact you as soon as possible. If your registration is not received by the Property Tax Division by Friday, July 18, we may not be able to verify your registration; however, we will attempt to contact you, so please include phone number(s) where you can be reached. 

EVENING ACTIVITIES

MONDAY EVENING: NEW ENGLAND LOBSTER BAKE  A Property Tax School tradition, this year the good folks at Young's Lobster Pound on the Belfast waterfront will again serve up a feast that includes a choice of lobster, haddock, chicken or vegetarian, complete with all the fixings. No cash bar is available but patrons are welcome to bring along their beverages of choice.  No early take out will be allowed this year, but any food served in the group setting will be boxed up "to go" upon request.  Also, the Young's have requested that attendees carpool as much as possible as increased attendance has created some parking issues. Thank you for your cooperation! 

In addition to the fine food and good company, "Cheap N Easy" will be on hand to add some music and fun to the festivities.  Also, as if that's not enough, rumor has it that our friends from the Maine Chapter IAAO and Gritty McDuff's have a little something special planned again this year. Tickets are $25 (no charge for anyone enrolling for the entire week) and must be purchased in advance.  Also, additional tickets for guests may be purchased in advance for $25 each.  

TUESDAY EVENING: GOLF!!!  Maine Property Tax School patrons are invited to tee it up and play one of the fine local courses (either Searsport Pines or Northport Golf Club) from 5:00 PM until dark.   Please contact Jeff Kendall by noon on Tuesday, August 6 if you would like to participate.

THURSDAY EVENING PICNIC:   A unique after hours networking opportunity for tax school participants to get together at Steamboat Landing in the heart of Belfast for a chicken and steak picnic featuring acoustic music from the Wind-Up Man, Joe Murphy. Although there will be no charge for attendees of the property tax school, anyone wishing to attend must sign up at the registration desk no later than Wednesday morning, August 6.  Anyone that is not enrolled in the property tax school may attend but also must sign up at the registration desk no later than Wednesday morning, August 6 and pay a $20 guest fee.