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EDGEMONT’S SHARE OF TAXES TO UNINCORPORATED GREENBURGH WILL JUMP FROM 24.7% TO 27.02%, OR ABOUT $1.2 MILLION MORE

The results of the Town’s reassessment show that the share of taxes that Edgemont taxpayers must pay to the Town for municipal services provided to unincorporated Greenburgh will jump next year from 24.7% to 27.02%.

The reason for the increase is that, as many had predicted, Edgemont’s property values did in fact increase at a more rapid pace than properties in the rest of unincorporated Greenburgh had.

The information was released tonight to a Greenburgh civic leader in response to a Freedom of Information Law request she made February 25. The Town has not otherwise made the information public, despite repeated requests that it do so. Nor has the Town yet issued any press releases on the subject.

Because the taxes collected to fund the budget for unincorporated Greenburgh comes to about $50 million, Edgemont’s share this year, at 24.7%, was $12,351,579, but next year, when Edgemont’s share climbs to 27.02%, Edgemont taxpayers will have to pay $13,535,000 – an increase next year of $1,183,421, which is equivalent to a 9.6% hike in town taxes. Town taxes are about 16% of the property tax bill.

The 27.02% share is based on an assessed valuation for Edgemont of around $2.7 billion when compared to an assessed valuation of the Town outside villages (unincorporated Greenburgh) of just under $10 billion.

As a result of reval, Edgemont’s share of county taxes will also go up. County taxes are about 10% of the property tax bill.

The huge increase in Edgemont’s share of town taxes is likely to start talk once again about Edgemont incorporating as its own village since Edgemont will now be funding more than 27% of a local government in which it has no elected representation of its own.

To fund the increase in their share of town taxes, many Edgemont taxpayers are learning this week that the Town is increasing the assessed value of their homes in some instances by as much as 40% or more, while some whose homes were over-assessed and were assured by town officials they would see a substantial reduction are instead ending up with increases too.

Those whopping sudden one-year increases in tax assessments are likely to create hardships in Edgemont for longtime homeowners who may be on fixed incomes. In Scarsdale, which faced a similar problem, many older homeowners had to sell their homes because they could no longer afford to remain.

Some may argue that those homeowners whose assessments have skyrocketed shouldn’t complaint because they are only being asked to pay their fair share of taxes which have thus far been subsidized by those who’ve been over-assessed.

But the Town could have avoided the problem it knew it would face in Edgemont had it adopted the Homestead Tax Option.

Had the Town adopted Homestead, the increase in Edgemont would have leaped from 24.7% to only 25.7%.  The 25.7% figure is based on an assessed valuation in Edgemont of around $2.7 billion and an adjusted assessment for all of unincorporated Greenburgh of $10.475 billion.  The adjustment is based on the increase in assessed values based on taxing condos not as rentals, but as if they were single family homes.

With Homestead, Edgemont’s valuation is Homestead would have created two classes of taxable property – residential and commercial – and the increased burden on residential taxpayers resulting from revaluation would be phased in over five years. That way, those on fixed incomes facing reassessment sticker shock would have time to decide what to do.

But Homestead comes with a catch. In the interest of tax fairness, under Homestead, condos which are valued today as commercial properties, would be valued the same as single family homes.

And that seems to have been the problem.

Led by Town Supervisor Paul Feiner, who owns a condo, the Town Board decided at a rare Tuesday afternoon work session on February 23 to reject the Homestead option without prior public notice that the matter was even up for discussion.

Because he led the fight against Homestead, Mr. Feiner was able to get the assessed value on his $710,000 condo in Boulder Ridge, which was assessed last year as a commercial property at $413,000, drop to $384,000.

Data released today by the Town shows that Mr. Feiner and other members of the Town Board knew when they voted at the work session on February 23 that Edgemont would have benefited substantially from Homestead, while Mr. Feiner would have benefited personally – and quite substantially – without it.

Significantly, even though Mr. Feiner posted a YouTube video of the February 23 work session where Homestead was rejected, he has yet to issue any press release at all alerting residents that their new assessments, and the assessments of their neighbors are available on line.

The Town is still stonewalling on releasing information. To justify the Town Board’s rejection of Homestead, Mr. Feiner touted a report from state tax authorities; he also cited statistics showing that only 48 municipalities (out of 1,000 municipalities in the State) have adopted it.

But three weeks later, and Mr. Feiner still hasn’t released that information leading some to speculate that it doesn’t exist and that all Mr. Feiner did was just repeat something someone else had told him.  Indeed, when confronted about the issue at last week’s Town Board meeting, Mr. Feiner responded by reading at length from one of his press releases, thus demonstrating that he had no apparent grasp of the issue without reading from a prepared text which, as it happens, didn’t address the issues residents were raising.

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