The Irvington Village Board today unanimously urged the Greenburgh Town Board to adopt the proposed local law, scheduled for public hearing tonight, that would allow for a five-year phase-in of the Town’s revaluation program.
ECC president Bob Bernstein had proposed the idea three weeks ago in an effort to ease the financial burden created by assessment increases of 50% or more on many homes that, if not phased-in, would trigger automatic property tax hikes next year for many of $10,000 or more.
Town Supervisor Paul Feiner initially supported the idea, but within a few days, joined Town tax assessor Edye McCarthy, in opposing it.
Irvington’s support for the measure came after a video circulated today in which Mr. Feiner, appearing at a meeting in Irvington in October 2010, said he would not support any revaluation in Greenburgh unless there was a “phase-in” to protect against hardships; he also promised to keep people informed so they could hold him to his promise.
Today, Irvington’s government said they intended to hold Mr. Feiner to his word.
In a letter dated April 13, 2016, Irvington Mayor Brian C. Smith said, “A lot has been said, over the year, about the need for revaluation. The one common theme, from Town and Village Officials alike, was the need to phase in the expected significant impacts. What was expected now has become reality and we believe there is a solution already in place to soften those impacts. Let’s keep our word by enacting the transitional assessment local law and implementing it in accordance with the State’s existing rules and regulations.”
“We write to urge your adoption of the proposed local law to implement transitional assessments evenly in accordance with the provisions of NYS Real Property Tax Law, sec. 1904,” the mayor said.
“The Irvington Village Board has long supported the reassessment of all properties within the Town and we have long encouraged a phased in approach. It was always our view that the accumulating of significant inaccuracies due to 60 years of neglect should not be corrected all in one year. The extreme swings resulting from the data captured during the current revaluation process only fortified our view,” he added.
Mayor Smith also went on to strongly reject an interpretation of the five-year phase-in law, favored by Ms. McCarthy and frequently repeated by Mr. Feiner, that the mayor said “results in a front-loaded phase in, effectively rendering the law useless.”
“We believe that sec. 1904, when read along with the Rules and Regulations promulgated by the New York State Tax Department, allows for a true and even phase-in of the revaluation assessments,” he said.
“Specifically, Title 20 NYCRR Sec. 190 provides for the use of an “adjusted prior assessment” and, in so doing, results in an even phase in over 5 years as the law intended. This is not an unreasonable interpretation given that these are the NYS Tax Department’s own rules and regulations,” he added.
Mr. Bernstein had made the same point to Mr. Feiner and the town board in an email dated March 29, 2016, but he never received a response. Instead, Mr. Feiner began attacking Mr. Bernstein personally for having suggested the five-year phase-in.
“I am cautiously optimistic that common sense and fundamental fairness may yet prevail here,” Mr. Bernstein said.
“On behalf of the entire Edgemont community, I want to thank Mayor Smith, the Irvington Village Trustees, Constance M. Kehoe, Christina M. Giliberti, Mark Gilliland and Janice V. Silverberg, as well as Village Administrator Lawrence S. Schopfer, for doing what I had hoped the Town Board might do, which is read the statute and related regulations and enact the mitigation relief that the State of New York has already expressly authorized the Town to do.”