By Jon Craig
About 100 people turned out for Greenburgh’s first public meeting regarding a planned town-wide reassessment of property values Wednesday — for the first time since 1956 — and the session was uncharacteristically amicable.
The property inspections, to be finished by June 1, 2016, are certain to amend the official value of many, if not most, properties in the Town of Greenburgh. Revised values, which can be challenged by commercial and residential property owners, would impact property tax bills beginning in April 2017.
A representative from Tyler Technologies based in Plano, Texas, explained that by law they cannot require a property owner to let them come inside the home or business to look for major renovations or improvements that might drive up the property’s assessed value. If barred at the door, the inspectors will make their best judgment on a home’s value from an exterior view and property sales trends within neighborhoods.
One goal is to stem the tide of property tax lawsuits, formally known as certioraris, which increasingly cause last-minute changes to annual budgets, forcing some Westchester municipalities to borrow money to balance spending plans.
The Greenburgh Town Board has decided to spend $3.8 million to perform a general town-wide reassessment of about 28,000 properties, awarding contracts to Tyler Technologies and Michael Haberman Associates Inc. of Mineola, Nassau County. The companies also are being hired to conduct reevaluations in the same time frame for more than 10,000 properties in the Town of Ossining and about 36,500 properties in the City of Yonkers.
Wednesday’s 90-minute presentation had its lighter moments. When one man asked if he left the outside of his home unfinished but recently upgraded the kitchen and floors, thereby hiking its potential market value, he asked what would happen if he doesn’t let the inspector inside. “Where’d you say your address was?” joked Greenburgh Assessor Edye McCarthy.
Several residents expressed concern that because their homes are located within the Greenburgh Central School District, which has a worse academic reputation then other “property value rich” districts within the town, like Ardsley or Edgemont, they might see their homes devalued as a result. They were assured the reassessment is supposed to focus on comparable market values within neighborhoods, and not on school districts that might be within proximity of the homes. That point was a hard sell on the audience.
Supervisor Paul Feiner encouraged residents to invite McCarthy and other town officials to neighborhood meetings in upcoming months to detail the process and to answer questions.