By ASHLEY HELMS
A Town of Mamaroneck reassessment has been completed to 100 percent of both commercial and residential properties with the hope of reducing the number of tax grievances residents file each year, but some homeowners are fearful that property taxes will skyrocket with the new rolls.
The reassessment wrapped up at an Aug. 18 Town Board meeting and will be reflected on the 2014 tax bill, which will be produced in April. The project was contracted in 2011 under the administration of Supervisor Valerie O’Keeffe, a Republican, and is the first time the town has conducted a full reassessment since 1968.
According to Town Administrator Stephen Altieri, the reassessment examined an annual trend analysis to see how the current market is affecting home values. In order to keep values current and curb tax grievances, Altieri said the village will conduct similar studies at intervals of four years.
The economy and housing market did have a large effect on the study’s numbers, and Altieri said that the town finished it during an uptick in home values.
“[The regular reassessments] won’t be as extensive, but we’ll be able to make whatever changes are necessary,” Altieri said.
If residents feel that their property has been over assessed, they may file a grievance with their village or town. If a tax grievance is rejected, a property owner can then file a Small Claims Assessment Review, or SCAR, with the county to appeal the municipality’s decision to not grant a refund. According to data provided by Westchester County Clerk Timothy Idoni’s office earlier this year, SCARs in the Town of Mamaroneck dropped from 448 to 228 between 2011 and 2012. Data for the town was not yet available for the first half of 2013.
Known as the political third rail, full-scale revaluations are not often seen in Westchester. Only the communities of Bronxville and Pelham have moved forward on full-scale reassessments in recent years, as an attempt to cut down on certiorari claims.
As for property taxes, Altieri said it’s a “mixed bag,” with some home values increasing, some decreasing and others staying the same. He said those results are congruent with assessment results from 1968.
The town now will be far less likely to settle tax certioraris and would be able to take homeowners to court with the updated assessment data.
“More importantly is that what we created is a level playing field,” Altieri said.
But some Mamaroneck residents said they were worried that they will be priced out of the town because of the new assessment numbers.
Elsa Brewer, 56, said that she hopes her taxes will eventually go down, but isn’t expecting it. She said that she’s lived in the town for 30 years, but will consider moving somewhere upstate with lower taxes when her husband retires. Currently, Brewer said she pays about $9,000 in property taxes, which she said is on the lower end for Mamaroneck.
“If they raise my taxes any more, I’m leaving,” she said.
After contracts were awarded to Mamaroneck in order to conduct the reassessment, a series of workshops were held for community members in order to give them an idea of how it would be conducted and what effect it may have on them. Altieri said the town collected data on properties—including number of bedrooms, condition of the home and size—in order to properly gauge the value of homes in town.
“We did an evaluation process where the town was divided into nine neighborhoods,” Altieri said.
“We had meetings with property owners and wrapped it all up about month ago.”
Town resident Antonio Trabni, 55, said town taxes are quite high right now. Despite higher taxes, Trabni said he likes the heightened safety that comes with living in a wealthier, high-taxed area. He said if he lived someone cheaper, that there may be more crime.
“It’s high, but you pay for the security,” he said. “I like that no one will bother me here.”