Village reviews options for property reassessments

VillageMunicipalBuilding2By ASHLEY HELMS
Following the Town of Mamaroneck’s recent property value reassessment, the Village of Mamaroneck is discussing its own assessment options and what the implications for each would be. Village officials said, however, that conducting its own revaluation is not being considered at the present time.

The discussion ties into the possibility of becoming a coterminous town-village separate from the Town of Mamaroneck at some point in the future. Assistant Village Manager Daniel Sarnoff said that the village wants to make sure it has a taxation system in place before the decision to become coterminous could be made.

“We want to make sure that any decision made today takes into account long-term and short-term concerns,” Sarnoff said.

In New York State, villages must exist within towns. A coterminous town-village is a municipality that functions as both a town and a village. Home Rule legislation grants a municipality the freedom to establish its own government without a charter from the state, which is what allows one to become coterminous.

Harrison, Mount Kisco and Scarsdale are the only coterminous town-villages in Westchester County, at present.

For the Village of Mamaro­neck to become coterminous, it would involve the dissolution of Rye Town. The Town of Rye is made up of the villages of Port Chester, Rye Brook and the Rye Neck section of the Village of Mamaroneck.

In 2010, Rye Town Super­visor Joseph Carvin, a Republican, spearheaded an effort to fund a study exploring the possibility of dissolving the town.

The study, conducted by the Center for Government Research, a strategic management consulting company, provided options for the remaining municipalities if Rye Town’s dissolution was to go forward. Those options are currently being evaluated.

The overall goal would be to reduce the number of municipalities and layers of government, ultimately bringing down taxes on residents.

For villages that are contained within one town, many often don’t have a separate tax assessor, but rely on the umbrella town in which they reside for property assessment.

According to state law, villages located within two towns, like the Village of Mamaroneck—which includes Rye Neck, a portion of the Town of Rye—can cease to be assessed if both town’s properties are assessed at the same value, Sarnoff said. Currently, the Town of Rye and the Town of Mamaroneck are both at 100 percent value.

According to the assistant village manager, the Board of Trustees could pursue no change to the village’s property taxes—in which case the village would maintain its own Assessment Department and tax rolls—cease to function as an assessment unit and adopt the Town of Mamaroneck’s tax rolls or remain an assessment unit and adopt property values from the Town of Mamaroneck and the Town of Rye.

The Town of Rye assessed its properties at 100 percent value about seven years ago, and the Town of Mamaroneck concluded its revaluation at the end
of August.

The Town of Mamaroneck’s reassessment will be reflected on the 2014 tax bill, which will be produced in April. The project was contracted in 2011 under the administration of former Supervisor Valerie O’Keeffe, a Republican, and is the first time the town has conducted a full reassessment since 1968.

If the village ceases to function as an assessment unit and adopts the town’s tax rolls, the village would subsequently be letting go of its assessor,
Lloyd Wright.

“I don’t know if everyone on the board would be in favor of seeing an end to the assessment section of the village,”
Sarnoff said.

In fact, at a Sept. 16 work session, when the assessment options were brought to the table, Trustee Ilissa Miller, a Democrat, said that she doesn’t want to get rid of the village’s assessment unit and wants to review ways in which Mamaroneck could become more tax consistent.

Mayor Norman Rosenblum, a Republican, said that accepting the towns of Mamaroneck and Rye’s tax rolls ideally would eliminate certiorari claims, but he doubts that scenario would actually come to pass because many people will still say they were taxed too much.

Rosenblum said the village should retain its Assessment Department because they are better suited to handle the village’s property assessments than someone in the Town of Rye or the Town of Mamaroneck.

“Yes, it would be very good in general to not have to worry about assessing properties, but if we do it ourselves, we do a better job,” Rosenblum said.

The mayor said that he would like to study all of the available options and wouldn’t be able to make a yes or no decision right now. Keeping the village’s experts local is preferable and, while the village could save money by getting rid of the tax assessor, a decision can’t be made on that idea alone.

“You can’t make a decision based on a dollar amount,” Rosenblum said. “You have to look at the repercussions.”