BY KATIE HOOS
After much discussion regarding the Village of Mamaroneck’s property assessment values, officials say the village will likely adopt the Town of Mamaroneck and the Town of Rye’s tax rolls and eliminate the village assessor’s office.
According to Village of Mamaroneck Mayor Norman Rosenblum, a Republican, the Board of Trustees is leaning toward using the towns’ assessments—which have both been revaluated in recent years—bringing village property assessments to 100 percent value.
“We’re in the process, but the direction of the board is going this way,” Rosenblum said. “Full assessment is fair and the bottom line is, you want everybody to pay their fair share.”
The Town of Mamaroneck finished a full-scale property revaluation at the end of August 2013 and the Town of Rye revaluated its properties more than seven years ago. Properties were reassessed at 100 percent value in both towns.
The Village of Mamaroneck has not conducted a revaluation since 1968 and is currently assessing properties using the New York State Equalization rate of 1.84 percent, according to Village Clerk-Treasurer Agostino Fusco.
The equalization rate is the ratio of the total assessed property value in the municipality to the property’s true market value. The rate is given to each municipality by the state to determine the market rate of homes in an area. If properties are assessed at 100 percent value, the equalization rate is not necessary.
Village Manager Richard Slingerland said if the village does adopt the towns’ tax rolls, the Rye Neck section of the village will use the Town of Rye’s assessments and the remaining portion of the village will adopt the Town of Mamaroneck’s assessments.
Accompanying the adoption of the towns’ assessments, Rosenblum said the role of village assessor—currently filled by Lloyd Wright, a part-time employee who earns an annual salary of $33,000—would be eliminated.
“I see nothing wrong with it,” Rosenblum said about solely relying on the towns’ assessors. “It’ll certainly save the Village of Mamaroneck money; we won’t have to pay for the salaries of the assessor and the people that work in that department. We could save money on our operating budget.”
In the long run, the village could also benefit from the drop in tax certioraris that would coincide with using a full assessment.
A tax certiorari is a process in which a property owner challenges the real estate tax assessment on his or her property in an attempt to reduce the taxes on the property. If the owner wins the tax certiorari proceeding, they are awarded a refund for the difference in tax assessment by the municipality.
Earlier this month the Board of Trustees approved 27 such settlements totaling nearly $89,000.
Slingerland said between 200 to 300 residents challenge their assessments each year.
If the village adopts the Town of Mamaroneck and Town of Rye’s assessments, Slingerland said the amount the village issues in grievance settlements would be reduced and ultimately the number of certioraris would drop.
“It just depends on…where we are in updating the assessments,” he said. “When the Town of Mamaroneck went through its revaluation, a significant number of people were challenging the assessments. But once things settle down, the number becomes less and less.”
If the village adopts the towns’ tax rolls, the towns would be responsible for handling tax certioraris, Rosenblum said.
While Rosenblum supports the elimination of the village assessor, he is concerned about how that might affect the future possibility of the village becoming a coterminous town-village separate from the Town of Mamaroneck.
As state law has been generally interpreted, villages must exist within a town in the state of New York, but a coterminous town-village is a municipality that operates as both a town and a village.
To become coterminous, a municipality can file a home rule request from the state, which grants the municipality the authority to set up their own system of local government without charter from the state.
The attraction behind becoming coterminous is the reduction in the layers of government, which would ultimately bring down property taxes.
The catalyst for the Village of Mamaroneck to become coterminous would likely be dissolution of Rye Town, something long considered by all the municipalities involved.
The Town of Rye is made up of the villages of Rye Brook and Port Chester and the Rye Neck section of the Village of Mamaroneck.
“I happen to be interested in looking at the Village of Mamaroneck to have a vote to go coterminous, but part of the requirements is you must have the basics,” Rosenblum said, naming a court system, Department of Public Works and a tax assessor’s office. “It has been discussed, and if the Village of Mamaroneck is successful, we’d have to vote to recreate the assessor’s office.”
The Board of Trustees will hold a public hearing on the matter of adopting the Town of Mamaroneck and Town of Rye assessments at its meeting on Aug. 11.