NORTH SALEM, N.Y.— Two years after beginning a revaluation for the town of North Salem, Tyler Technologies Inc. has completed the project and the town has mailed out notifications to the 2,463 property owners in the town.
It’s the first time North Salem has conducted a revaluation since 1974. North Salem, along with the towns of Ossining and Greenburgh, hired Tyler Technologies as a consortium, a move that saved North Salem about $98,500.
The town hosted an informational meeting on April 4, where a presentation was made before about three dozen property owners in attendance. Supervisor Warren Lucas explained that letters containing the property’s assessed valuation as well as the estimate of the taxes would be mailed out shortly after the meeting.
“Ultimately what a reassessment does is determine what your fair share is for the town to operate,“ said Melissa Baer, Northeast Regional Manager with Tyler Technologies, who took part in the presentation. “That figure can go up or down over time,” she explained, “depending on the value of your property in relation to everyone else’s property.” Baer explained that the amount of money raised in a revaluation is the same.
Data collection on the project was from May to December 2015. Valuation analysis was conducted between March and June 2016, and the final field review was completed in November 2016.
North Salem Assessor Karen Futia said the total cost of the revaluation services was $373,200. Of that amount, $347,200 was for the actual reval. $26,000 was spent for the cost of the monitor overseeing the project.
Lucas said there are pros and cons to the current reval.
In 1974, when the last reval was done, all properties were assessed at 100 percent of value. Instead of revaluing every property every year, the state tracked property sales and compared those sales to the existing assessments.
The state also established a ratio, known as an equalization (EQ) rate each year, intended to equalize all assessments to a current market value. In 2016 the EQ rate in North Salem was 11.17 percent. That means the assessments were estimated to be only 11.17 percent of the current market value.
“This method would work if all types of houses, neighborhoods, etc. appreciated or depreciated at the same rate. The truth is, they don’t,” explained Lucas, “Applying one rate that does not always capture what is happening to all properties over 43 years causes assessments to be distorted. Some end up higher or lower than they should be.”
Lucas said one of the benefits of the new revaluation is that it will allow the town to review all properties annually and make regular adjustments, as needed. He said North Salem cannot change assessments in a specific neighborhood, but must instead change the assessment townwide through the EQ rate process.
Lucas said it’s important for property owners to note that school taxes are apportioned based on the values of the municipality. North Salem schools drawn students from not only North Salem, but also Southeast, Carmel and Somers. Rates vary, depending on the municipality, he said. School taxes will be determined, as they have been, on a town-by-town basis.
Baer said the most important tool for valuation is property sales, and she noted there were 162 property sales in North Salem between July 1, 2011 and July 1, 2016. Tyler Technologies valued all the properties in the town based on those 162 sales.
“Basically we take the properties that are sold, and we build a model based on those sales,” said Baer, “So, if your house is just like your neighbor’s house, and it sold for $500,000, then we could make the assumption that your house will also sell for $500,000.We also made sure the sales were valid sales, meaning they were not made to an unknown buyer, a family member or a foreclosure.”
Baer explained that valuing properties in North Salem presented a number of challenges.
“We didn’t have comparables for most properties. So if you have a colonial, your comparable sales might be a raised ranch, a ranch, a contemporary, and maybe I’ll have a colonial in there. There just might not have been a property that’s in your location as big as yours, as old as yours, so we used a cost approach.”
Tyler Technologies also verified all of the house data, including square footage, year built and the size of the property. Internal improvements to various parcels were not factors in the new assessments.
Normally, the company limits the number of sales factored in its valuation to a two-year period, but because of the relatively small number of sales overall in North Salem, they used the five-year sales period and made adjustments to values of comparable homes that had sold back in 2011.
Baer commented that the average price of a home sold in North Salem between June 2011 and June 2016 was $582,514.
The regional director of the Office of Real Property Tax Services in the southern region of New York, John Wolham, is assisting with the implementation of the revaluation and ensuring that the town is compliant with all of the state requirements.
Wolham detailed the shift analysis for property owners following the reassessment.
He explained that the bulk of properties that will see a significant increase in taxes are utility properties such as NYSEG and the state DEC water properties in town. As an aggregate, the 55 utility properties in North Salem will see a 65.2 percent increase in their tax levy over the current rate.
The 1,552 residential homes in North Salem will see a 5.52 percent decrease in their tax levy, overall.
Farm properties, of which there are 44 in town, will decrease nearly 10 percent, and the 299 vacant properties in North Salem will see a 10.3 percent increase in their taxes following the reassessment.
North Salem has 273 condos and co-ops which will see a 3.7 percent increase in their assessed taxes.
More specifically, of the 1,552 residential properties, approximately 70 will see a tax increase of more than $5,000. About 133 property owners will see their taxes go up between $2,000 and $5,000.
The bulk of the residential properties, 439, or 28 percent, will see about a $1,000 decrease in their taxes in April 2018, while 26 percent of residential homes (or 397) will see their taxes decrease between $2,000 and $5,000.
Once they’ve received their letters, residents will be given an opportunity to discuss the findings with officials from Tyler Technologies.
If you wish to schedule an informal review meeting with Tyler Technologies to discuss how your preliminary 2017 assessment was determined, it must be done so no later than April 25.
One-on-one informal review meetings are held by appointment only and will include weekday nights and weekend meetings for the convenience of residents. The meetings will be held at the North Salem meeting room at 66 June Road in North Salem.
Appointments can be scheduled weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. by calling (800) 497-6026. Officials note that the meeting is only to review the owner’s individual property assessment and is not to discuss taxes or other properties.
Property owners who cannot make an appointment, can provide a letter of authorization for a family member or friend to attend in their absence.
Also, those who cannot make an informal review meeting can send correspondence with their issues via U.S. mail, postmarked no later than April 25.
In each instance, the property owner must bring any applicable appraisals, photos and property comparisons that will be discussed during the 15-20 minute long meeting. Following the informal meeting staff members at Tyler will review each property and then mail out a final reassessment notice by June 1.
What can you do if you are dissatisfied with the outcome of your informal review?
You can challenge your assessment by filing an appeal to the North Salem Board of Assessment Review from June 1 to June 20, but no later than June 20, which is grievance day. Grievance applications and information about the appeals process are available at the assessor’s office or online at www.northsalemny.org under the assessor’s page under “departments.”
April 25 is the deadline to request an informal review with Tyler Technologies
June 20 is the deadline to file an appeal and grieve your taxes
A tentative assessment roll will be posted by the end of June 2017
A final assessment roll will be posted in September.
If you continue to disagree with the final assessment, you can file a small claims assessment review (SCAR) which is a legal process in White Plains by which an impartial third party will hear your case.
Property taxes will not be levied on the new assessments until April 2018.
Notices will be mailed out to all property owners the week of April 3, 2018.