One day after the Edgemont Community Council showed residents how to determine for themselves — using information available on the Town’s website — whether their new assessments increased and by how much, the Town altered its website to recommend using a different formula – which could mean much higher property taxes for those whose assessments already showed an increase, and a whole lot of questions for the Town’s Tax Assessor, Edye McCarthy to answer.

As of March 17, the town tax assessor’s website told residents that to calculate what the Town believed the market value of their home was in 2015 for property tax purposes, they should take the assessed value as reported on the Town’s GIS system, and then divide that number by 2.61%. That’s the formula that Ms. McCarthy has always told residents to use for the past year at civic association meetings.

Then, to find out the increase in assessment value, you would compare that number with the preliminary assessment that Tyler Technologies had determined. All of that info is on the Town’s website, so residents need not wait for the official reassessment letter to find out.

That 2.61% figure represents the Town’s Residential Assessment Ratio or RAR for the year 2015, and it is the figure that the State of New York requires residents of Greenburgh to use when calculating market value used by the Town for purposes of grieving taxes. The 2.61% rate is published as the rate for the Town by the New York State Office of Real Property Tax Services.

But after we posted that information, residents began questioning why the Town’s official assessment roll for 2015 uses a different number – 3.09% — to calculate “full market value.” That 3.09% figure is identified on the assessment roll  as the Town’s “uniform percent of value.”  It is also the so-called “state equalization rate” for Greenburgh. The “full market value” listed on the official Town assessment roll for 2015 results in a much lower valuation for homes than using the RAR formula.

When we suggested that 3.09% was wrong, that the correct number was 2.61% and cited the Town tax assessor’s webpage as proof (not to mention what Ms. McCarthy has been telling residents all along for the past year), the tax assessor’s webpage suddenly deleted all references to that 2.61% RAR figure and, then without providing the public any explanation, a reposted webpage instructed residents to use the 3.09% “equalization rate” instead. That figure also comes from the State Office of Real Property Services. 

Because using the 3.09% equalization rate rather than the 2.61% RAR rate results in a much lower overall market value, the implications for property tax hikes due to reassessment increases are enormous.

Consider the example of a home on Edgemont Road which had an assessment last year of $12,200. When you divide that number by the 2.61% RAR, the home has a market value of $821,260. Tyler gave the home an assessment of $1,074,300, which represents a 32% increase.  If the Town taxed that resident’s home as if it was worth $821,260, and it’s now suddenly worth $1,074,300 for property tax purposes, that resident will be paying as much as 32% more next year for his town and county taxes, while the impact on the amount of his school tax is not yet known because it depends on how many of his Edgemont neighbors also saw increases in their assessments.

But rather than using that 2.61% RAR, the homeowner were instead to use the 3.09% equalization rate the Town seems now to be recommending, that same house assessed at $12,200 in 2015 would have had a market value that year of only $686,084.   But that same homeowner has just learned his new assessment is $1.074,300.

As a result, rather than facing a 32% increase, which was bad enough, that owner is now facing a whopping 56% hike instead.  So, if the Town taxed that resident in 2015 as if his house was worth only $686,084, his new assessment of $1,074,300 will means the town and county portion of his property taxes will increase by as much as 56%.

And if you thought the house on Edgemont Road has it bad, consider that big stone house on Ardsley Road that had been grossly under-assessed for years.

We reported yesterday that last year’s assessment for that house was $33,400, which translates (using the 2.61% RAR) to a market value of $1,279,693. But Tyler came up with a new assessment for that property of $2,092,900, which is an increase of 63%.

However, using 3.09% instead of 2.61% means that the same $33,400 assessment translates to a value of only $1,080,906. Having now received an assessment from Tyler of $2,092,900, that homeowner is now facing an increase of 93.7%!

Residents should now recalculate their increase over last year and if the increase is substantial enough, they will almost certainly be facing a substantial property tax hike. Whether that hike is justified though depends on the actual market value of your home.

If you’ve received an increase and believe that Tyler’s assessment is too high, because you know no one in their right mind would pay that much for your house, you should contact Tyler immediately and schedule a meeting. Meetings are being held from now until April 8 in 15-minute increments at Town Hall on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 to 5; on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, and on Saturday from 9 to 5.  Tyler will only discuss how much your house is worth; they cannot and will not address issues pertaining to the increase in taxes resulting from the new assessment.

Residents who come to these meetings with Tyler should therefore come prepared to show that the market value of their home is substantially less than the value Tyler gave it by pointing to such thing as recent comparable sales in your neighborhood, or the results of an appraisal if you’ve recently had one, or even the results of Tyler’s assessments of homes similar to your own.

But what are residents to make of all this confusion from Ms. McCarthy and her office over the last few days?  What’s the right number for determining the real impact of the new assessments over the prior assessment?  How can residents predict how much their new higher assessments will impact the amount of property taxes they’ll have to pay?

There was no explanation from Ms. McCarthy. Nor did the town supervisor issue any press releases on this subject.  And despite all the changes to her webpage at St. Patrick’s Day, we understand that Ms. McCarthy did not report to work on March 17.


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