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The Office of Real Property Tax Services (ORPTS) computes a railroad ceiling for all railroad transportation property, in each assessing unit, where property is located. The ceiling is the maximum amount of assessed value that can be used when levying taxes on railroad transportation property. The difference between the State's established ceiling and the locally determined assessment is the exemption. In practice, most assessors do not independently value railroad property, but rather they assess the property using the actual ceiling values.

The preparation of railroad ceilings for ORPTS is a responsibility of the Valuation Services Bureau (VSB). The ceiling computation program uses the reproduction cost new less depreciation approach (RCNLD). The resultant RCNLD value is then adjusted by a factor that reflects the economic conditions of the railroad. The adjusted value is multiplied by the State equalization rate to determine the ceiling figure.

Upon approval of the tentative ceiling, notice is transmitted to the appropriate municipality and railroad owner, both of which then have an opportunity to object to the tentative ceiling by serving a complaint on the Commissioner.

After consideration of the complaint and supporting objections, VSB and Counsel's office in the case of questions of law, recommends to the State Board of Real Property Tax Services either that the ceiling remain unchanged or that an appropriate change be made. The State Board then determines the final ceiling. After the Board makes its determination(s), certificates setting forth the final ceilings are transmitted to the appropriate municipalities for the use on their assessment rolls and to the respective owners of the railroads.