By Jon Craig
Half of Greenburgh’s homeowners weren’t even alive when town government conducted its last town-wide property reassessment.
The inspections are certain to amend the official value of most properties in the Town of Greenburgh, but the aim 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.
In February, the Greenburgh Town Board approved spending $3.8 million to perform a general town-wide reassessment of about 28,000 properties, awarding contracts to Tyler Technologies of Plano, Texas; 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. Haberman Associates, which are real estate appraisers and consultants, will monitor the property inspections, ensuring they stay on schedule.
Feiner said Greenburgh’s reassessment is expected to cost $500,000 less than it might have had the town gone ahead with the project inspecting the values of homes and businesses on its own. The expected completion date is June 1, 2016, when new assessments would be effective.
Town of Greenburgh Assessor Edye McCarthy said the total cost of the reassessment “is significantly less than what we had originally thought. That is mostly due to the fact that we have coordinated to work with other municipalities and received a break in the cost as there are many more parcels then just Greenburgh.”
Reassessment is the process of appraising all real estate in a municipality based on its full market value, to ensure that each property owner pays a fair share of taxes. While most states require regular reassessments, New York tax law leaves the decision up to municipalities. Mamaroneck, Pelham and the town of Rye have revalued properties in recent years. Scarsdale is currently conducting a reassessment.
According to Greenburgh’s resolution to hire Tyler Technologies, not assessing properties for so long has resulted in “assessment inconsistencies, widespread lack of public confidence in the system and an inordinate number of assessment appeals.”
The process is revenue neutral, meaning the purpose is not to raise property taxes. The purpose of the reassessment is to bring the assessed value of all properties within the Town to 100 percent of market value and to ensure that the property assessments are fair and equitable.
Feiner said he believes the town-wide reassessment “will create greater transparency and equity to the process, an improved understanding of the process and reduction in the number of property value appeals over time. In recent years, it has cost the town about $10 million annually to settle lawsuits challenging property assessments.
“It will create more predictability and financial stability for the town,” Feiner said last week.
One of the reasons for recent tax increases at the town, school district and fire district levels is because revenues have decreased due to certiorari actions, according to Feiner.
Assessor Edye McCarthy says the town has not heard any opposition to the plan yet. “To the contrary actually, people have indicated, that it is/has been time for this,” McCarthy said on Sunday. “Ossining and Yonkers have been hearing the same thing. Perhaps after our project, other municipalities will consider it a well.”
Feiner said Greenburgh will hold neighborhood meetings in the coming months to discuss the process and to answer questions. A link about the reassessment process is posted on the Town website.
At Wednesday’s meeting, which begins at 7 p.m., representatives from Tyler Technology are expected to describe the reassessment process in detail including their planned timetable and notification schedule.
“This will be one of many public meetings,’’ Feiner said. “If you cannot attend but would like our Assessor and Tyler to speak to your neighborhood or organization, we will be happy to participate in a meeting convenient to you. We want everyone to be as knowledgeable with this process as possible.”
The reassessment meeting will be followed by a regularly scheduled meeting of the Town Board at 8:30 p.m.