Please take a moment to read the letter from Hastings' Mayor, Peter Swiderski, regarding the process of property reassessment in reference to the village of Hastings-on-Hudson.
The Town of Greenburgh is about to begin the process of property reassessment here in Hastings. This email provides some background on that process and what you can expect to happen over the next few months and years (yes, it is that long a process). You will be getting mailers with further information, and the Village website will also host information as well.~ Please read this email carefully and save it: this describes a process that will likely have a material impact on your life if you are a property owner in this village.
All property in Hastings are assessed a value that forms the basis for how much you incur in property taxes which fund the schools (70%), village services (18%), County services (10%) and the Town of Greenburgh (roughly 2%). More accurately, for historic reasons, all property in Hastings have *two* assessed values, one carried on the assessment rolls maintained by the Village and which drive your Village taxes, and the other maintained by the Town of Greenburgh and which drives the other three taxes mentioned above, most importantly the school. The last Village-wide assessment occurred nearly 60 years ago. The two rolls are updated as new homes are put up or reassessments occur as a result of major renovations. Over the decades, the two rolls have fallen out of synch with each other and with reality. Most people see absurd assessment values on their tax bills that look like they are straight out of the 1950’s. Because they are. It’s only through ridiculous computational gymnastics that the entire system is made to work. It makes no sense - and, in fact, is only found here in New York State. Go figure.
During the normal budget process, the Village first determines what it needs to spend to keep the village running. We then take that amount, subtract out all income the Village receives from mortgage taxes, sales taxes, State support, parking tickets, etc. and what is left (about 73% of the need) must be covered by property taxes. We then divide the total amount remaining that needs to be covered (for example, $10,000,000 out of a budget of $13,000,000) across the total assessed value of the Village (say $100,000,000) and the result is how much is owed for every dollar of value your property is assessed. In this example, you would owe ten cents on every dollar of assessed value, so if your property was assessed at $10,000, you would owe $1,000 in taxes. (The School, Town and County all do this separately and use the total assessed value for their math as well.) I think about it as a zero-sum game where the two lumps - how much is due and how much is raised - are always the same. It's your proportion of the total amount that is used to cover the need that is based on your assessment. If you are dramatically under-assessed, others are paying a bit more taxes than they should to subsidize you. That may be great for you, but it is patently unfair to everyone else. Similarly, if you are grossly over-assessed, you have been subsidizing everyone else's taxes. That's unfair to you.
What Reassessment Does
A reassessment takes the existing roll, which is an accumulation of inequities, and makes it fair once again (or at least a lot more fair than it is now) by re-evaluating the assessment of everyone's property in town in one deliberate effort. It's a chance to iron out the inequities and get everyone more in line with reality. (A number of property owners have done this by challenging their own individual assessments over the previous years but they’re a small minority.)(And yes, if you have done so, you will be reassessed as well, again.) This Town-wide reassessment will now level the field for everyone. It's hard to predict, heading into this process, whether your taxes will go up or down. The rough rule, often repeated, is that about a third of all taxes will go up, another third will go down, and the rest will stay about the same. The only way to find out where you will be is to go through the process.
How it will work
As I mentioned before, there are two assessment rolls. This reassessment process is being run by the Town of Greenburgh and will affect the Greenburgh assessment roll (which is used by the School, County and Town for 82% of your annual tax bill.) It's being run Town-wide, so all our neighbors are being reassessed. Greenburgh has contracted with a firm, Tyler Technologies, that does this for a living and they will be running the reassessment process. The following describes that process:
1) Yellow Postcard mailing
Over the next two weeks, you are likely to get a yellow postcard from the Town of Greenburgh. This will be the first announcement of the start of the process in Hastings.
2) Brochure mailing
The following week, you should get a mailing from Tyler Technology. It will detail the process you are about to face. (A few of you may have already gotten these.)
3) First Attempt to Inspect
Shortly thereafter, a member of the Tyler Tech assessment team will knock on your door between 9 and 5. They will have identification and will ask to be briefly admitted. This will be a short visit – less than fifteen minutes – and is strictly a data collection process. They are looking at the general finish and number of rooms: it doesn’t matter if you have cleaned up or are in mid-laundry. These professionals go through hundreds of homes and they’ve seen everything. Just give them their ten minutes.
4) Second Attempt to Inspect
If you aren’t around during the first round, they will try a weekday after 5PM or on the weekend to carry out the brief inspection.
5) Third and Final Attempt to Inspect
If you have been missed on the first two attempts, Tyler Technology will send you a mailer urging you to call them and schedule a visit based on when they are in the neighborhood next. Hopefully, between these three efforts, the crews will have a chance to see most homes.
6) Data Mailer
Sometime in mid-January, you will get a Data Mailer from Tyler Technology. This mailer will state how many floors and rooms you have and the general finish. This will be the basis for the evaluation, so check the facts in this mailer and make sure it is accurate. If you were missed during the inspection process and so they got it wrong, or you disagree with their description even though they visited, you should indicate this on the mailer and send it back. They will seek to schedule another visit to confirm your claim of disagreement. This is the first chance you will have to provide feedback.
7) Tax Shift Analysis
By the end of 2015, they will be finished with Greenburgh. At this point, they will run an analysis of the assessment and come up with an estimated value for your property. This will be sent to you in early 2016. It will show your old assessed value, your new value, and how this is likely to affect your taxes (up or down) based on the previous year’s budgets. You will have a chance to disagree with the assessment and they will evaluate the claim.
Once the new assessment roll is complete, the 2017 taxes will be based on the results of the reassessment process. From that point forward, for at least a decade, the rolls should be generally accurate. This will result in greater fairness and fewer claims made for lower assessments or certiorari proceedings (what commercial properties go through). (And it has some other benefits we will get into later.) Note that this process will affect school, town and county taxes. The Village Board of Trustees will then evaluate the results of the effort and then decide whether the new Town roll should be adopted as the new, official Village assessment roll. If we do so, we will no longer maintain a separate roll or separate appeal process and all changes to the roll will be made in a single place.
As you can see, this is a lengthy process that will take some time before it is reflected in your tax bill and it will have several points where you will be asked to weigh in on the results of the process as it affects your house. While this is not a Village-initiated process, we support the effort to update the rolls and the equity it may bring to the proper determination of tax bills. We hope you will provide the assessors with every courtesy.
A chance to ask questions
The Greenburgh Tax Assessor, Edye McCarthy, will appear before the Board of Trustees in the Municipal Building on September 16th at 7:30 sharp to describe briefly this process and then answer any questions from the public. If you have any questions, please attend.
Reassessments generate anxiety, as one might expect, but they should also generate some satisfaction that an archaic process is finally being rectified. The results will be a more equitable distribution of the taxation burden. That’s only fair.