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05/30/2023 Assessment Community Weekly

New webpage describes upcoming changes to 467 and 459-c

The 2023-2024 Enacted State Budget amended the senior citizens exemption (RPTL §467) and the exemption for persons with disabilities and limited incomes (RPTL §459-c). 

The most significant of the changes is in regard to the definition of income for eligibility beginning with 2024 exemptions. (For 2023, the longstanding definitions of income remain in effect.)

We expect the 2024 forms to be available this fall along with a tool to help assessors determine income eligibility.

In the meantime, to acquaint you with the changes, we’ve published a new webpage.

New crop of farm trainers developing modernized appraisal class

On April 24, ORPTS trainers from the Northern, Western, and Central regions gathered in Batavia to launch a new chapter in the evolution of the Introduction to Farm Appraisal course.
“The course’s name hasn’t changed, but the agricultural industry certainly has,” explained the Central Region’s Ed Roulston.
“We want the course to be built for today’s assessor and for today’s farms,” added the Northern Region’s Gutman Black.
Those of us who aren’t in the field (literally and figuratively) may not be aware of farming’s ongoing evolution. But when you reflect on the types of stores and establishments that seem to be popping up like mushrooms in a damp forest, brewpubs and CBD stores come to mind.
“Twenty years ago, it would be hard to find a New York farm growing cannabis or hops. Now they’re common, and we’re reworking the farm appraisal course to keep up with the times,” added Ed. He also mentioned the need to account for the proliferation of wineries in the Finger Lakes region—a challenge for assessors who haven’t been trained in winery valuation.
And it’s not just the types of crops, but the actual growing methods and even the energy sources that are changing. As hydroponics, automation, solar power, and other technologies become more common, the valuation challenges can also multiply.

Team approach

To update the course, the new trainers had big muck boots to fill following the retirements of Mark Twentyman, Bob Wright, and Christine Bannister, all of whom had grown up on farms. It was 2019 when ORPTS last taught the farm appraisal course.
Rather than having one lead trainer for the course, ORPTS’s leadership assigned a team of trainers to head up the effort:

  • Christopher Buman (Western Region)
  • Ed Roulston (Central Region)
  • Gary Wright (Northern Region)
  • Gutman Black (Northern Region)

Western Region Director Gary Drake, Central Region Director Kate Garbutt, Aaron Lesch (also of the Central Region), and Julie Parker (Northern Region) oversaw the evolution of the redesigned class. Erica Foley and Andrew DiMartino provided the training expertise of ORPTS’s Educational Services.
With 40 separate sections in the class curriculum and the class being taught in much the same way for decades, it was a significant undertaking. The team’s goal was to modernize the curriculum and teaching methods without losing the core training and what worked best. 

Class highlights

If you’ve taken the Farm Appraisal course, or even if you’ve just heard about it, you know that the farm visits have long been considered the highlight of the 5-day training.
The April class visited three farms, including Excelsior Farms owned by former ORPTS Western Region Director (and Farm Appraisal trainer) Chris Bannister.
At one of the farms, the class encountered a rabbi who was visiting to ensure the milk was processed in accordance with kosher guidelines. At another, the class was exposed to the valuation techniques needed for a farm producing hydroponically grown tomatoes.
This time around, a new modification to the final day was also very popular. The 50-question, open-book, multiple-choice exam was replaced by Agricultural Jeopardy. The fifteen students were divided into two teams and given the chance to collaborate on the answers.

Next steps

The team is already planning for additional offerings of the class in 2024.
“We’re considering all options to make the class as helpful and as streamlined as possible for today’s assessor,” said Gutman. “In the end, what matters most is what the assessor takes back to their office that they can put to use. We’re considering all options to provide the right tools in the most effective ways.”
The enthusiasm of the trainers was certainly palpable as they prepared the class. And if the evaluations from those in the classroom are any indication, future students are in for a treat. 

Judicial cases

new Judicial cases:

  • Matter of Tyler v Hennepin County, Minnesota 
  • Matter of St. Lawrence County v City of Ogdensburg