It’s no wonder local homebuyers are attracted to Barrington, Rhode Island: a lovely coastal suburb full of higher-end homes and strong public schools not far from the state capital, it was recently named one of the country’s best places to live by Money magazine. But late last summer, local residents found the town Tax Assessor’s sudden and unilateral decision to change the way property taxes were determined distinctly less than ideal. With help from the REALTOR® Party, the local REALTORS® supported a movement to return to the previous method of assessment, and property owners prevailed.
Suzanne Silva, RCE, Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Providence Board of REALTORS® (GPBOR), explains that the unexpected shift in the approach to tax assessment in Barrington “came from a creative interpretation of a recent state Supreme Court ruling.” The single-handed decision of the Tax Assessor last August to adjust property taxes according to a home’s recent sale price, rather than on a regularly scheduled basis, which has been the town’s customary practice, surprised all its residents – especially those who’d just bought homes.
Concerned that this change could increase the cost of home ownership and decrease investment in Barrington, and also worried that the new method of assessment could spread to neighboring communities, GPBOR turned to the state association for guidance. “David Salvatore, Government Affairs Director of the Rhode Island Association of REALTORS®, suggested I contact the REALTOR® Party, and our board voted to implement a Call For Action,” says Silva, adding, “I’d never used the Advocacy Everywhere program, and can’t say enough about how well organized and efficient the REALTOR® Party team was in helping get the opposition message out.” With this support, GPBOR launched a campaign of emails, REALTOR® Party Mobile Alerts, and a dedicated Facebook page. Says Silva, “The day I reached out to them, we received suggestions, resources, and links. Within the next 24 hours, we had a template for the email message, and the entire project was complete two days later. We appreciate so much what the REALTOR® Party does to support us local associations. They made it so easy!”
Though there are only five brokerage firms in Barrington, with a total of 162 GPBOR members, a robust response to the Calls for Action added significant weight to the public outcry against the Tax Assessor’s baffling policy change. Within days, the tax official reversed course, reverting to the usual schedule of reviewing property value every three years, or when notable improvements are made. “Our members in that marketplace are very happy that this outcome will keep the town competitive,” says Silva. It was also a victory on a larger scale, she notes, as the whole controversy is spurring the state association to propose 2020 legislation preventing such unilateral property tax assessment decisions from happening elsewhere.
To learn more about how REALTORS® are protecting homeowners and the local real estate industry in Greater Providence, contact Suzanne Silva, RCE, Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Providence Board of REALTORS®, at 401-274-8383.