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Understanding equalization rates

September 15, 2013

Taxes can be a confusing jumble of numbers, but add in a different equalization rate for each municipality and then things can get complicated....

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Sep-15-13 10:59 PM

In Portland repairs on roofs, siding, windows, piers, etc. are already being taxed. Building permits filed give the assessor the opportunity to look at properties & change assessments. The assessor has been given the latitude to do this by the state if she feels it warranted. Not that she has to but she can. The problem is this becomes a spot reval. Note that no one has gotten a reduction in their assessment because the property needed repairs. This would only be fair if everyone in the town go re-valed at that time too. And the town has no right to control the assessor even though the town pays her salary, the state sets her job description guidelines & authority. Talk about taxation without representation. NY State property tax reform? No chance. No traction there because of the number of renters in our state that do not care about property taxes so their government reps do not care. We are looking into the possibility of changes at the county level but no progress on t

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Sep-15-13 6:16 PM

Keep a close watch on Mr. Caflish. I believe his objective is a county=wide, county controlled re-assessment on an annual basis. If he gets his way government will have a blank check drawn on your account. Maintenance items such as roofing, siding, windows and driveways that are now not taxed will become taxable improvements. Government has an insatiable appetite for money. Elected officials turn into thieves the day after an election and their only concern is raising enough funds to cover their bloated payroll. Don't let them get away with it!!!!!

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Sep-15-13 6:06 PM

You gotta love these predictable & loyal followers who disagree, regardless of the topic, w/o offering an opposing view. Hope it satisfies such compelling needs.

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Sep-15-13 1:16 PM

What's important to the property owner is NOT whether the assessment rates are at a full 100%, it's the accuracy of the assessed value put on it, and there's no way to determine the value until it's sold, hence Phil's assertion that it's all a guessing game that clearly favors the taxing body.

According to this article, Dunkirk properties are assessed at 82%, yet my house was assessed (17 yrs ago) at $14,000 ABOVE what I paid for it, and I can't get an offer close to what I paid.

Should I expect another 18% added to an assessment that is already clearly inflated?

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Sep-15-13 11:59 AM

Agreed, this is not as important as the tragic football injury, our prayers are with him and his family. About re-vals, the re-val itself is only part of the cost. To be accurate, all the towns in the county must be at an accurate 100%. That means assessment corrections every year with a cost to support that. If one town in the county is re-valed, you know their market value is going up. Therefore their school and county taxes will go up since those taxes are distributed based on market value. The towns that did not do a re-val or update of their assessments keeping their market values the same will then pay a lesser share of the school & county taxes. For detailed info on what has happened in Portland, go to www dot toperc dot weebly dot com If you are interested in joining our group, contact us. We need town-wide support as this is costing our town residents over $650,000 per year.

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Sep-15-13 11:32 AM

Phil, you're absolutely right!

I'll agree that our home's assessment at the time we bought it was pretty low, but the re-val TRIPLED it! When I complained to Cherry Wisniewski, telling him (back then) that I'd sell it now if it's worth what the city now claims it is, he simply laughed and said get in line.

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Sep-15-13 10:31 AM

Assessments are a means to apportion taxes. It is important to keep property values assessed at maker values for all classes of properties or some can pay more or less than their fair share. There is also a grievance process for property owners to challenge their assessment. The goal for our municipalities should be equity and fairness in the distribution of taxes. Clearly what is happening in several towns is not fair to a substantial number of property owners.

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Sep-15-13 10:04 AM

I wonder why in several downstate towns they have equalization rates below 1%. Maybe it's because they know what they are doing! The whole system of property taxes is nothing but a scheme to extract money from property owners for the benefit of local governments. Assessments are nothing but a guessing game. No one knows the value of your home until it goes on the market and is sold in an arms length transaction. The system is fundamentally unfair and regressive because the value of property does not reflect the ability of a person to financially support government. A young family might have a $200,000 mortgage - they are in debt up to their teeth and the value of their home does not reflect their ability to support government. The same problem exists when a person retires and his income may be cut in half. Add to that the fact that we have a blosted system of local government and the system becomes grossly unfair. To the residents of Portland I say DON'T LET THEM DO IT!

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Sep-15-13 9:34 AM

We pay taxes on ESTIMATED MVs, and in most cases, they're way too high! Of course, how else would a muni meet its payroll if assessments weren't deliberately inflated?

The house we bought in DK in 1982 was assessed at $19K LESS than what we paid for it. In '96, the city hired an outside firm to do a city-wide re-val (b/c NiMo threatened to sue). The re-val jacked our assessment up $14k ABOVE what we paid (btw, Nimo's went down). The house is for sale and not in disrepair, and we can't even get what we paid for it 31 yrs ago! We've been paying on an intentionally inflated ESTIMATED MV for 17 yrs.

Who do we see about getting a refund?

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Sep-15-13 9:22 AM

Maybe investigating the possibility of the County doing all assessing might be worthwhile. Then everything would be at the same level and be more uniform. But even at 100% I'm seeing assessments that are all over the board - some are way too high while others are way too low.

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Sep-15-13 9:01 AM

How about the cost to the town of Portland? And while you are at it how about a look at the fund balance this town has to pay for it.

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Sep-15-13 8:41 AM

Get your priorities straight, how is this story more important than the story about the westfield bricton football player who is intensive care???

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Sep-15-13 6:29 AM

An expense associated with town-wide reassessments, that's not mentioned in this article, is the cost of defending lawsuits from propertyowners. Almost inevitably, lawsuits are brought by people who feel their assessment is too high. Those lawsuits tend to come from people with high-end property that have a big incentive to spend the money on a lawyer. Taxpayers must shell out to defend those lawsuits and municipalities end up losing those costly battles far more often than they win them.

In the end, frequent revaluations are likely a net loser for municipalities. But the true costs are not readily apparent because the time spent by assessors, building inspectors and town attorneys on revaluations is not usually documented.

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