Property values up?

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The city of Franklin’s proposed fiscal 2009 budget, at first glance, is commendable. City officials have gotten the message from a restless citizenry that unrestrained spending growth is unacceptable.

The budget, in its current form, takes some good-faith steps toward fiscal discipline. We appreciate the effort.

We’re mystified, though, by one of the budget’s central premises: that property values in the city have gone up 10 percent in the past two years. Recent commercial construction has added some value to the tax rolls, to be sure, but not 10 percent. Much of that supposed growth would have had to come from existing property, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a real-estate expert in this community who will attest to rising property values. The trend has been just the opposite in a housing crisis that has gripped not just Franklin but the entire country.

The outside appraisal firm that conducted this year’s reassessment has a lot of explaining to do, and we hope that City Council members will hold the firm’s feet to the fire.

In neighboring Suffolk, when city appraisers reported even a 4.4 percent rise in property values, City Council members raised all manner of sand and demanded answers and documentation. Franklin property owners deserve the same kind of advocacy from their elected officials.

Otherwise, expect the city’s Board of Equalization to have a busy few months as chapped homeowners file formal appeals.