Government

Townwide Revaluation Project Complete

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John Wolham of the state Office of Real Property Tax Services, right, gives a presentation on the townwide property revalution at the Feb. 22 Town Board meeting as assessor Glenn Droese looks on. Credits: Bob Dumas
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MAHOPAC, N.Y.— After more than two years, the town-wide revaluation project for Carmel has been completed. More than 13,000 notices were mailed out this week informing property owners of their new property values and what their next tax bills could look like. 

It’s been 20 years since the last time Carmel underwent a townwide revaluation.

“The project is pretty much [complete] in terms of the value of all the properties in the town of Carmel,” said John Wolham, regional director for the state Office of Real Property Tax Services, during last week’s Town Board meeting. “So, now we are in the phase where property owners get a sense of what is happening townwide and what is happening to [individual properties].”

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Wolham gave a presentation of the tax shift analysis garnered from the revaluation—how properties’ values have changed within major property categories, such as residential, commercial, condominiums and vacant land. The first chart he shared showed how each property group changed as far as what percentage of taxes it contributes to the overall tax roll.

Residential properties as a group went down slightly. They were at 78 percent of the tax roll; now, the preliminary numbers indicate they are just a little over 76 percent.

“That means residences as a group are going to [make up a] little less of the property tax that is raised by the assessment roll,” Wolham said.

Condominiums as a group went from just under 3 percent of the tax roll to 3.65 percent. Part of that is due to new construction, Wolham said.

Wolham said that vacant land’s percentage of a tax roll usually goes up after a reassessment.

“Here, it is going up from 2.31 percent to 2.78 percent,” he said. “This is not a big increase. Traditionally, we see vacant land going up more as a group.”

Commercial property went up very slightly.

“It is so slight that, as a group, commercial properties are more or less about the same,” Wolham said. “They went from 7.81 percent of taxable assessed value to 7.84 percent.”

The category of “Others,” which includes utilities and special franchises, increased from 8.34 percent to 8.9 percent.

The tax shift analysis also looked at what is happening within each property group in terms of tax dollars.

In the residential category, 32 percent of Carmel homeowners will see no change in the taxes they pay; 23.4 percent will see an increase, while 44.5 will see a reduction.

“This suggests that there were a fair number of properties in the town that were paying more than they should,” Wolham said. “This project will set that right. It also suggests that some properties were undervalued.”

In the vacant land category, 43 percent will not change; 36 percent will go up; 21 percent will go down.

Commercial properties saw 9 percent at no change; 34 percent going up; 55 percent going down.

“Clearly there were some disparities there,” Wolham noted.

Overall, Wolham said that 30 percent of all properties in town will experience no change as a result of the revaluation, while just under 30 percent will go up. Just under 40 percent will go down.

Wolham said when it comes to revaluations, there is an adage that a third of the properties will remain the same, a third go up and a third go down.

“But it never really worked out that way [in Carmel],” he said. “More properties are going down than going up.”

Wolham said the envelope that property owners will receive in the mail over the next few days will contain a cover letter, which explains the revaluation process and recourses the taxpayer has, as well as a document illustrating how the revaluation impacts their assessment and future tax liability.

“It will show the assessed value for 2016—with a level of assessment at 59 percent—and then the full market value of that assessment,” he explained. “In the line below it, it will show the 2017 assessment, which will be at full value and will show the net difference [between the two values].

“What people will be most interested in is the grid down below that [in the letter],” he continued. “This will look at your county, town and school taxes. It will show what your assessment was in 2016; your new preliminary taxable assessed value, and the approximate taxes you paid in 2016 versus the redistributed amount for 2017. It will then you give you a bottom line summary.”

That document will not include special district taxes (such as water and sewer districts).

“What you want to do is look at the value for 2017 and ask, ‘Does that value seem reasonable to me? Could I get that value for my property?’” Wolham said. “If you think it’s reasonable you don’t have to do anything further. If you have questions or think the value is too high, you will want to contact Vision Government Solutions.”

That’s where the cover letter comes in. It explains how property owners can sign up for an informal review of their new assessment with Vision Government Solutions, the firm the town hired to performed the revaluation.

“This is where you get an extra bite at the apple,” Wolham said. “You can come in and have a discussion with the folks who set the value of your property and present information that may point to a value other than what they set and that will be looked at.”

Officials encourage property owners who attend these informal reviews to bring in relevant documentation that could help their cause.

“You can bring in photos, anything that shows us issues that are affecting your property values,” said Sue Robinson, project manager for Vision Government Solutions. “These are short meetings and is your time to talk about your individual property. You get to come in and say, ‘Take a look at this.’ If you have a copy of a recent appraisal, that is helpful, or if you have information about recent sales in your area that are comparable, bring that in. We won’t make a determination at that meeting as to what that value will be. We have to gather all the information and review it and then make whatever changes are necessary.”

There will be a link provided on the town’s website that will let residents view all the assessment town-wide and enable them to compare property values.

“Use the informal meeting process; it’s a very casual get-together, said Glenn Droese, the town assessor. “But they are not there to talk about taxes; they are there to talk about property values.”

For those who wish to schedule an informal review, call 888-844-4300 or go online to www.vgsi.com/schedules and following the instructions. The reviews will be held at Carmel Town Hall at 60 McAlpin Avenue in Mahopac during regular business hours March 8 through April 8 (Wednesdays through Fridays, with limited Saturday hours). Appointments must be made no later than March 17.

The first time the new assessed values will be used will be for September 2017 school taxes and January 2018 town and county taxes.

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