By Barrett Seaman
In the final week in March, Greenburgh Town Assessor Edye McCarthy told a gathering of local realtors that they could expect tax rates in the year ahead to run from 3.2% to 3.7% of assessed value. Irvington, she said, looked to have a rate of about 3.4%, Dobbs Ferry 3.7% and Edgemont 3.6%. Roughly translated, these would mean that the combined taxes on a house valued at $1 million would be around $34,000-a-year in Irvington, $37,000 in Dobbs Ferry and $36,000 in Edgemont.
The numbers she gave stunned many of the agents present, as it was widely assumed that they represented a significant increase over last year. In an interview with The Hudson Independent, however, McCarthy said that in several communities, the new rate actually represents a slight decrease. Taxes on a million dollar home in Irvington last year, she said, were in fact around $35,500 before deductions like the STAR rebate; that same home would be taxed $34,300 under the projected 2017 rate.
“Taxes actually will be decreasing in the Village of Irvington, ever so slightly, but nonetheless’” she said. In Tarrytown, she added, “if the property value was the same from last year to this, there will be no change in taxes.”
Many local real estate agents use three percent as a benchmark for last year’s tax rate, which would have made the projected 2017 rates McCarthy announced at least seven-to-ten percent higher than last year’s.
The tax rates in Greenburgh, McCarthy said, are not atypical for Westchester County. Indeed, overall in New York state, rates average around 3.5%.
Given that the reassessment conducted by Tyler Technologies in 2015-16 had yielded significant increases in valuations in those three villages, many had hoped for lower rates as compensation for the higher assessments. Mathematically, higher valuations, factored into a revenue-neutral budget model, should yield lower tax rates. Working against that, however, were the Tyler assessments that were successfully appealed downward.
During the six months in which homeowners could appeal their Tyler Technologies re-assessment, about 3,200 did so. Overall, 535 were granted reductions directly by the Assessor’s office, while another 237 got some relief from the Board of Assessment Review.
As this newspaper reported last December, at the end of the reassessment process, some 3,200 homes in Greenburgh Township had increases of more than 25%. Of those 1,100 applied for the three-year phase-in, of which 157 were denied for failure to meet one of the law’s stipulations.
McCarthy stressed that the new tax rates are preliminary, as budgets for the villages and school districts have not been finalized. Most taxing entities have issued preliminary estimates, however, which Greenburgh factored into its model.
Michael Bryant, a real estate agent and tax attorney who has represented homeowners in their efforts to get relief, also cautioned that the rates announced by McCarthy are tentative. “I am guardedly optimistic that there will be some tweaking in those numbers,” he said.