Town and Golf Club Settle on Property Assessment

Assessor Glen Droese says a deal has been struck between the town and Mahopac Golf Club over its property assessment for the past three years. Credits: Bob Dumas

MAHOPAC, N.Y. - The town of Carmel has approved a tax certiorari settlement with the Mahopac Golf Club that calls for a $4.6 million reduction in the club’s property assessment over a three-year period.

While the Town Board OK’d the settlement at its Nov. 1 meeting, town assessor Glen Droese said the case is technically still in the litigation process until both parties sign off on it.

The settlement covers the years 2015 to 2017. It reduces the club’s property assessment from $3,590,500 to $2,210,000 in 2015; from $3,590,500 to $2,175,500 in 2016 and from $5,549,700 to $3,702,100 in 2017.

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The club will receive a refund from the town, the town’s various special districts (sewer, water, fire, lighting, etc.) and the school district.

The town’s share of the assessment reduction is approximately $29,000.

“The town is only responsible for the town tax rate,” said Droese. “The other part of the refund will be the school, the county and the [special] districts. The school would be responsible for the largest part [of the refund].”

The town has a special reserve fund created to pay certiorari tax refunds when cases such as this arise, so this will have no impact on the budget or town finances, Supervisor Ken Schmitt said.

Droese said the golf club agreement isn’t the largest certiorari settlement he’s seen since he’s been assessor but he was reluctant to discuss it in detail because the deal isn’t official yet.

“There have been others that are larger [settlements],” he said. “But this is technically still in litigation so I can’t talk about it much. The Town Board has given permission [to make the settlement] but it hasn’t been signed [by both parties] yet.”

In a letter from attorney Richard T. Blancato, who represented the town in the matter, to Droese, Blancato said that his law firm’s appraiser inspected the golf club property and it became apparent “that the facility was becoming run down and dated.”

“In addition, golf clubs are in a severe decline in most of the country,” he wrote. “Mahopac Golf is no exception. Our appraisal was not much higher than the petitioner’s (Mahopac Golf Club) appraisal.”

Ron Clamser, assistant superintendent for business and human resources with the school district, said he hasn’t yet been notified of the settlement but noted that, like the town, the school district has a fund it uses to pay off certiorari such as these. He said the school district would indeed pay a majority of the refund for the settlement.

“We have a general fund budget line for tax refunds, but for the larger ones like this, we use funds from a reserve account,” he said. “But if we didn’t have it, we couldn’t put it in the budget; we would have to finance it.”

Clamser emphasized that the refund for the golf club is not $4.6 million; that is merely the total reduction in assessed property value over the three-year period.

“Whatever the reduced assessed value is, we have to refund them based on what the tax rate was in each of those years,” he said. “Each school year has to be calculated separately.”

Clamser also said it’s not the biggest certiorari refund he has seen since coming to Mahopac.

“It’s not the first time we have had a big one like this,” he said. “My first year, we had a pretty big one.”

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