JAY — Selectpersons voted Tuesday night to enter into a contract with a New Gloucester assessing company worth $50,000 for property valuation services, Town Manager Shiloh LaFreniere said Wednesday.

John E. O’Donnell & Associates Inc. will do the valuation update of all properties, except the Verso Paper Mill, which is in undergoing a complete revaluation, she said.

The money will come from $125,000 voters approved in January to hire industrial valuation experts and pay for associated fees, including legal, in connection with the mill valuation. In March, voters approved an additional $300,000 to be transferred from the surplus fund in connection with doing a complete revaluation of the paper mill and associated properties.

Verso has challenged the town’s 2013 assessment of the mill.

The revaluation of the mill to be done by Corporate Valuations Inc. of Oregon is expected to cost $247,175, LaFreniere said. The company’s representatives are in the process of scheduling a visit to the mill.

In the meantime, Jay will update the values of remaining properties.

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According to a letter from O’Donnell, the town’s average assessment for the most recent sale period is close to the Maine assessment guidelines maximum ratio of 110 percent.

“The Jay assessors are wise to recognize that the upcoming Verso Paper Mill fair market value appraisal necessitates updating other Jay assessed values to 100 percent,” the letter states.

The last revaluation of properties in town, except the mill, which was done in 1997, occurred in 2006 when the housing market was high, LaFreniere said. With the equalization process some properties may be adjusted down, others may see them adjusted up, she said.

O’Donnell has been the town’s assessing agent for more than 15 years.

Jay’s assessed values were first computerized in the company’s software in 1997. In 2006, O’Donnell conducted a revaluation that included exterior inspection of improved properties.

This year, the computerized record system provides the town with another opportunity to equalize assessed values at 100 percent of fair market value with a valuation update and avoid the cost of full revaluation, according to O’Donnell.

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“The major differences between full revaluation and valuation update are the time and effort put toward fieldwork, property cards, data entry, sketch scanning and picture taking,” O’Donnell’s letter states. “In a revaluation, all are done from scratch for all properties. In a valuation update, these functions apply only to sale properties.”

The firm also did a revaluation on the properties in town in 1997.

The purpose of the equalization services is to provide new land and building valuation schedules based on market data from the past two or three years.

The town’s average assessment ratio for improved properties will be between 93 and 100 percent, according to the contract.

Company representatives will conduct an exterior review of each property that sold in the past two years where the sale did not involve parties related to each other.

The company plans to identify whether or not any structures were added, removed, or altered and will record the results of the field visits on the existing property records.

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The company will also examine property sales in Jay over the past two to four years.

After the property value notifications are sent to affected property owners, the company will be available to meet with owners by appointment.

The valuation update is expected to be completed by mid-August.

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