by Robert Kimmel
Property owners in the Town of Greenburgh will learn, in about a month, whether the assessed value of their homes or commercial properties for tax purposes will rise or fall. In the words of Greenburgh’s Assessor, Edye McCarthy, spoken at a January Town Board meeting, “Some will go up; some will go down.”
Individual results of the town’s first property reassessment since 1956 will come in the form of letters expected to reach each owner by the second week of March. While the letters will come from Tyler Technologies, the company that performed the reassessment, they will have the Town of Greenburgh marked on the envelope.
McCarthy explained that, “The letter will show what your assessment and tax were before the reassessment, and what the assessment will be and what your projected taxes are.” She noted, however, that, “Property owners will have about a month and a half to go through the formal process of an assessment review, if they have questions or concerns about their values, and things like that.” There will be information included as to how to request a formal review.
Town Supervisor Paul Feiner stated that, “The Assessor and I are more than happy to meet with civic associations and residents to discuss it in greater detail.” McCarthy also indicated that there will be “informal meetings here at Town Hall.”
The new assessment values will not impact property owners until next year. Actual tax totals required are being evaluated based on the Town’s newest budget figures. The reassessment was not designed to increase total taxes and revenue for the Town, which also collects taxes for school and fire districts, but to bring the assessed value of some 28,000 properties in the town, including those in Irvington and Tarrytown, closer to 100% market value and to make certain that property assessments are fair and equitable.
An additional result of the reassessment is expected to be a marked decrease in the number of individual claims for reducing assessed home values and the certiorari actions challenging commercial property values which result in millions of dollars of costs, in legal charges and refunds from the Town’s coffers.
Following a reassessment, some municipalities in New York have adopted the state’s Homestead Act, to counter a possible heavier tax burden placed on residential properties, as a class, following the revaluation. Whether the Town opts for this has not been determined, although it was discussed by the Town Board last month.
“Most of the Town Board does not seem inclined to support Homestead,” Supervisor Feiner recently noted, adding that “Most communities in the state have not enacted Homestead. One of the major reasons why the town may not opt into Homestead is because of the new commercial development that is going to be built around town. If Homestead is enacted,” he explained, “homeowners will not benefit from the taxes that these developments will generate since the percentage of residential and commercial properties will be frozen.” He also mentioned that, “A study by the state of the ramifications of Homestead is taking place at the present time and should be completed in about a month. We felt that we should wait till the study is completed before we vote on whether to enact homestead or not.” Feiner’s “guess” was that, “the town will make our decision in late February or early March.”
The Homestead potential is causing some concerns among condominium and co-op owners in Tarrytown and Irvington. Condo and co-ops are classified, in most regions of the state, as commercial properties for property tax purposes and are taxed as though they were rental units. The Homestead Act would alter that status and re-classify them as residential properties, likely raising their taxes. A coalition of condominiums recently met to discuss the issue and proposed actions to counter Homestead adoption, arguing that condos, within their property areas, perform many of the activities that municipalities ordinarily handle for single family homes, thus saving the villages or towns those costs.
McCarthy told the Town Board that following reassessments, Scarsdale, the Town of Pelham, and the village of Bronxville did not adopt the Homestead Act, while the Town of Rye did. Were Greenburgh to adopt the act, villages, such as Tarrytown and Irvington, and the Tarrytown School District, serving two villages, including one, Sleepy Hollow, not in the Town of Greenburgh, would have to decide whether to adopt it as well for their tax purposes.