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From the Desk of Carroll Valley Mayor Ron

(Oct, 2010) Where are we now with the reassessment? Over 6,000 change notices have been sent out to Adams County residents. The notices informed the property owners of changes made to their real estate value. The County plans to continue tomail out these change notices about every two weeks throughout the end of the process. Here are some suggestions that you the property owner should consider when preparing for your formal assessment appeal.

The formal hearing lasts about 15 minutes. You should be prepared to provide evidence within that time frame. However, if you need more time, you are not rushed during the hearing. Under Pennsylvania law, the official assessment is considered to be prima facie valid, and the burden of proof after entry of the official assessment value shifts to the property owner. This means the property owner must provide proof that supports the value that the property owner believes is accurate. The evidence may be testimonial or documentary.

Examples of documentary evidence are: (1) appraisal of the property; (2) sales of comparable properties made in the recent past; (3) sale of the subject property in the recent past and (4) pictures that show limitations of the property.

The formal hearing process consists of the following: (1) Appeal Board members are introduced; (2) the property owner is placed under oath (3) your property characteristics (house layout, number of rooms, square footage, etc.) are reviewed with you; (4) you are then asked if there is any evidence you would like to present to the Board; (5) you present your testimonial and documentary evidence; (6) cross-examination ensues whereby you and the Board members discuss the evidence presented; (7) the hearing ends and you leave; (8) the Board members deliberate at the conclusion of the hearing after you are dismissed; and (9) the decision of the Board is mailed to you within thirty days.

If you are not satisfied with the Board's decision, you can appeal the decision to the Court of Common Pleas. Remember, the Appeal Board is made up citizens of Adams County and not employees of the appraisal company. They are there to help correct any inaccuracies. However, they need evidence to do so.

Are you interested in helping your neighbors during an emergency? If so, you may want to consider joining the Fairfield Regional Emergency Management Agency (FREMA). FREMA provides emergency services to three municipalities, namely: Carroll Valley Borough, Fairfield Borough and Liberty Township. On behalf of these participating municipalities, FREMA is responsible for preparing, maintaining and keeping current a disaster emergency management plan for the prevention and minimization of injury and damage caused by a natural or man-made disaster. The agency is also responsible for the prompt and effective response to the disaster and the disaster emergency relief efforts and recovery. FREMA is governed by an Executive Committee which is comprised of one elected member from each participating municipality's governing body.

The current committee members are: Supervisor Robert Jackson, Mayor Robert Stanley, and myself. Coordination among the municipalities, the county and state government during a disaster is managed by an Emergency Management Coordinator (EMC). FREMA's EMC is Chief Dave Martin. He is assisted by Deputy EMC Andrew Aldrich. Both are responsible for the planning, administration and operations of FREMA and report to the Executive Committee. How much experience do you have to have to join? None.

There are two requirements and they are the desire to help others and the willingness to learn how. What does the job entail? You will be part of a staff operating the Emergency Operations Center following documented procedures under the supervision of the EMC and Deputy EMC. You will be answering phones, collecting data over a mobile radio device and documenting the information. Your primary job is to support the first responders (firemen, police, etc.) in the field. Please consider joining by giving me a call at (301) 606-2021 or by email at for more information.

Halloween is this month. Please be careful when driving. Watch out for all our residents but especially our young ones. Slow down. Don't drink and drive.

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