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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.”