If you go to the on-line property database Vision Appraisal and click on "Milford," you'll get a message that reads:
"Due to matters concerning Revaluation, tropical storm Irene, insurance companies and FEMA, the Milford, CT online database will not be available until further notice. Thank you for your patience.
Dan Thomas, Assessor, City of Milford."
The city's assessor explained to Milford Patch that he took the values of the homes down because he feared they were being misused by insurance companies trying to skirt payment to homeowners as a result of Tropical Storm Irene.
More specifically, if Irene destroyed more than half a home in a flood zone, FEMA regulations require homeowners to raise their houses 8 to 10 feet above ground to prevent further damage in future floods, Thomas explained.
And once that requirement is met, insurance companies are required to pick up part of the tab, Thomas said.
But the values on line, which date back to 2006, are more than current market values -- and therefore make it more difficult for homeowners to meet the 50-percent threshold to get help from the insurance companies, Thomas said.
"I took it off temporarily primarily because a couple of insurance companies were misusing the information," he said.
Insurance companies could get the updated, lower values -- which officially become public in December -- from the Assessor's Office.
"I was just trying to help the Milford residents, quite honestly," Thomas said, adding, "Just like anything, let the buyer beware, let homeowners and the insured beware."
Shutting down the information on Appraisal Vision has prompted many questions, Thomas said. So he plans on putting the old information back on line within a few days -- with a disclaimer warning insurance companies that the values of buildings are not current and directing them to the Assessor's Office for updated ones.