Tag Archive | "assessments"

No Tax Increase for North Haven

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By Claire Walla

Despite a strong push by the village clerk to increase the tax rate for the coming year, North Haven Village Trustees have ultimately settled on a budget that keeps the tax rate right where it is.

For the Tentative 2012-2013 Budget, which is currently estimated to be $1,327,800, the tax rate will remain at 1.38 percent, making this the fifth year in a row taxes have been stable in the incorporated village.

“I think the tax rate at its current level is sufficient to cover our expenses,” said Trustee Jeff Sander at a budget work session on Tuesday. “The fund balance is healthy enough, and we never want to raise the tax rate if we don’t have to.”

Based on current estimates, Village Clerk Georgia Welch said the village’s fund balance will end up totaling about $600,000 to $700,000 by the end of the fiscal year in June. The final amount will depend on how many improvement projects — like replacing the roof at Village Hall — the village ventures into before then.

The proposed budget calls for using about $352,587 of the village’s current fund balance to cover next year’s expenses.

Though Welch said the village can certainly sustain these costs without raising taxes, she said it’s the future she’s worried about. The village is seeing slight increases in costs — its fire contract is expected to increase by about $9,000 for next year — but, additionally, Welch said the village’s assessments are not as grand as they had been in years past.

While this year’s assessment figure has not yet been finalized, Welch said the most recent number she was given came to $1,472,059,518. Though it’s a $5.7 million increase over last year, previous village assessments had risen by at least three times that amount. And the difference between the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 fiscal years was about $126 million.

Welch had proposed three budget scenarios outlining different tax increases so the village would not have to use any of its fund balance to cover expenses. However, Sander explained the village had budgeted very conservatively in the past — over-estimating certain expenses—in order to build-up a healthy fund balance. And he said there’s no danger in using some of those funds this year.

“I’ll acquiesce to whatever you want, but I don’t think it’s going to look good two years down the line,” Welch continued. “Mortgage tax and building permits are our main revenue sources, and they have decreased quite a bit in the last six years.”

Building permits have dropped from 117 last year to 80 this year.

“I’m just hoping that the assessments won’t change any more,” Welch concluded.

She said she’ll have the final figures from the town before the village’s public hearing on the budget, Tuesday, April 3.

Sander added, “And I hope we have a good year with building permits.”

A Time to Grieve: Assessments Up, Despite Market

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On Monday, an outraged Southampton resident stood at the front desk of the town assessor’s office with a letter in hand.
“You are hereby notified … that the assessed valuation of the real property … owned by you has been adjusted as follows,” began the letter, which was mailed Friday, May 1.
“I bought my house six months ago for $600,000, but [this letter] tells me it was assessed last year at $1.2 million and now the assessment is $1.3 million,” said the resident, who preferred to remain anonymous. “Whoever did this assessment had to be blind to not notice all of the ‘for sale’ signs [in the area]. The market is dead and there is no financing. I can afford these increases, but my concern is for the 90 percent of the community who cannot … what will happen to the old woman who is on Social Security?”
Southampton Town’s assessor Ed Deyermond understands this complaint and the others like it that his office has received after 9,000 such notices were sent to town property owners. Deyermond contends the town must comply with state law, which dictates that properties be assessed based on the real estate market conditions as of July 1, 2008.
According to some reports, the real estate market was fairly robust last summer.
John Valente, the Southampton Town Senior Property Analyst, quoted Town and Country Real Estate as saying that, in 2008, “some markets drastically increased in some neighborhoods” and that “Sag Harbor Village prices jumped by 56.5 percent.”
When the economy nosedived in the fall, however, the housing bubble popped, sending property values plummeting.
“We are seeing significant changes in the value of homes,” Deyermond said of current housing prices. “In some cases the decreases are as high as 30 percent. But in some areas, like Hampton Bays, there is a greater decline.”
Because of state law, however, these market fluctuations couldn’t factor into the town’s assessments for 2009, but Deyermond said his team strove to make property evaluations as equitable as possible. After reviewing sales for the fall and winter of 2007, the town assessing unit met with the New York State Office of Real Property Services (ORPS) in March and refined the assessments for 4,400 properties. Overall, only 18 percent of the assessments increased, and many of these adjustments were based on renovations, quality of construction, land adjustments and neighborhood values.
At a town board work session held on Friday, May 1, Deyermond said he had been asked why the town didn’t lower assessments in light of the current economy. Deyermond pointed out that even if assessments could be lowered to reflect the present day real estate market, it would do little to alleviate the tax burden on local residents.
“If we reduce assessments by half, the budget will stay the same. The logical mathematical equation would be to raise the tax rate to raise the amount of money [the town needs],” explained Deyermond. Both Valente and Deyermond added that increased property assessments are not a revenue generator for the town, but rather are meant to ascertain equal property values in the town.
The assessment for next year will reflect the market values as of July 1, 2009 and show the decrease in property values. Town spending will most likely remain the same or go up, and this discrepancy worries Deyermond.
“I am concerned about next year. The values from 2007 to 2008 were generally stable, but property values have begun to erode out here,” said Deyermond. “The 5 percent tax cap limit has always benefited by the increase in property values.”
“If assessments drop from zero to 30 percent, we are going to have to make up for it somehow,” Valente argued.
For those residents who feel they were unfairly assessed, they will have the opportunity to plead their case May 19 — “Grievance Day.” The aforementioned Southampton homeowner plans to attend.
Deyermond and Valente are expecting a big turnout for this year’s Grievance Day. Last year, 7,000 letters were mailed and between 400 to 500 locals showed up. In preparation for Grievance Day, the town assessor’s office is dispatching representatives around the East End to meet with local residents. One employee will be stationed at the Sag Harbor Municipal Building on May 11 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Grievance application forms can be downloaded from the town’s website and must be submitted to the assessor’s office no later than May 19.
“People are concerned. They seem to be questioning almost everything, but that is not a bad thing,” Valente noted.

Southampton Town Talks Home Assessments

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The Town of Southampton is preparing for tax grievance day in May. But here in Sag Harbor, residents on both the East Hampton and Southampton sides of the village will get their chance to grieve on Tuesday, February 17.

Grievance day allows residents an opportunity to contest their property assessments, which are used to determine the amount of taxes they pay. Residents are invited to come to the municipal building in Sag Harbor between 1 and 5 p.m. on Tuesday with the required grievance form, which is available online, as well as any documentation dated before July 1, 2008, to prove that their properties were incorrectly assessed.

While the Town of Southampton is still preparing for its own grievance day, town officials are saying the change in the economy won’t affect the results this year.

Those living in Southampton Town east of the canal will see the biggest change this year and are “carrying most of the burden of the operating budget,” according to Southampton Town Supervisor Linda Kabot.

On Friday during a work session, the Southampton Town Board met with Ed Deyermond, the town’s Sole Assessor, to discuss the progress in anticipation of grievance day and assessment rates within the town.

“There was not any measurable significant drop in value,” Deyermond said on Monday. But he said that the assessment was done based on information of properties before July 1, 2008. That preceded the major economic shift in the country which came in the fall.

“That complicates the issue for a lot of reasons,” he said.

But according to Deyermond, any information a homeowner brings to grievance day must provide data on comparable properties prior to that July 1 date.

Deyermond said that the value dropped in the last few months of 2008 and if the property values “bottom out… next year you will see the values going up and the assessments going down.”

This would mean a reverse of what has occurred this year. For example, Deyermond said that if a home was worth $1 million in July of 2008 and sold for $800,000 in December 2008, that data could not be comparable for this year’s assessment. The assessments are always a year behind, he said.

 “It is important to stay close to the 100 percent for property taxes to get ready for grievance day,” Kabot said, explaining that the closer the assessments are – the better the property taxes will be for individuals.

The town is expected to mail out notices to any homeowner whose assessment rate has gone up or down, but are not mailing notices to every resident in the town, which was what happened last year. That, according to Deyermond, only happens every three years.

The notices to Southampton Town residents will be sent out on May 1, 2009 and grievance day will be on May 19.

Deyermond said that his department remains “cautiously optimistic,” and added that from 2007 to 2008 he sees some stability.

At their meeting on Friday, the town board and the tax assessor representatives discussed creating informational literature in order to avoid misunderstandings similar to those that happened a few years ago.

In 2006, prior to Deyermond’s current tenure as sole assessor, the town was criticized for failing to communicate to the public the details of their re-assessment and what effect those changes would have on individuals’ property taxes. That year marked a major re-evaluation, the first to occur since 1992. According to Deyermond, when the market was booming between 2003 and 2005, there was a tremendous appreciation.

On Friday, Deyermond said the department is working on a public relations package that would further assist the community in understanding the impact an assessment would have on their individual taxes. Further, he said that currently anyone could walk into his office at Southampton Town Hall and get any information they require pertaining to their assessments.

Deyermond also said that the town is looking to set up a call center, where homeowners can call in with any questions pertaining to the assessed value of their home. The call center was set up for this very reason last year.

Right now, he said there are two individual appointments for the village of Sag Harbor. And the other villages including Westhampton Beach and Quogue, that are going through the process now are “really quiet.”

Overall he said there seemed to be stability in comparison to years past in both Bridgehampton and Sag Harbor, but Sagaponack will see some changes.

“We are coming to the end of a new cycle,” he said “and there are a lot of new homes in that area.”

Sag Harbor Village residents can obtain a form online from the town’s website and bring that along with their documentation to the office on grievance day.

Deyermond said Southampton Town residents can make appointments on May 19, grievance day, at Saint Rosalie’s Church in Hampton Bays.

Deyermond added, “It’s a unique market out there.”