North Salem Mulls Property Revaluation

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North Salem officials are considering a tax revaluation.
North Salem officials are considering a tax revaluation. Photo Credit: Tom Auchterlonie

NORTH SALEM, N.Y. -- North Salem could become the latest town in Westchester County to conduct a property revaluation.

In a video of the Town Board's April 22 meeting, members discuss the possibility, which involves reassessing all local properties. Revaluation was also mentioned in detail in a recent town newsletter.

At the meeting, Supervisor Warren Lucas gave a recap of the town's involvement so far with a group of other municipalities looking to do the same thing. He mentioned the town having gone out to bid with other communities, including Yonkers and Greenburgh. North Salem received a price quote of $330,000, or about $124 per parcel, Lucas explained.

Greenburgh, Yonkers and Ossining have banded together through a revaluation consortium and are working with a shared company, Tyler Technologies.

In the town's newsletter, the rationale for revaluation is one of fairness.

“The ultimate goal of a reassessment project is to have every property owner pay his or her fair share of taxes. If two property owners each have property worth $500,000, all things being equal, they should pay the same amount of property tax.”

North Salem has not had a revaluation since 1974, but the town's newsletter notes that assessments do not keep up with real estate market changes if there is no reassessment periodically. Unless a townwide revaluation is done, North Salem's ability to do so is limited. The newsletter notes that the assessor cannot revalue properties that are underassessed. If improvements are done, according to the newsletter, the value of an improvement can be assessed but not the rest of the property.

An estimate of home sales in North Salem, which runs from January 2010 to June 2013 and was released by the town, shows that 35 percent sold for more than their assessed value, 39 percent sold for less and 26 percent sold for what is not considered to be a notable difference.

The possibility of revaluation also comes following an increase in tax challenges. According to the town, in the last four years there have been more than 400 assessment appeals.

According to the schedule that has been considered, the revaluation would start in 2015, with data collection next May. A posting of the final assessment roll would be in September 2017, and the first property taxes based on the revaluation would be effective in April 2018.

At the board meeting, Lucas brought up fairness as a reason for supporting revaluation. However, he raised concerns about how it would be paid for -- borrowing and fund balance usage were given as scenarios -- and about the possibility of a revaluation leading to higher county taxes unless a bigger population is involved. None of the board members explicitly ruled out revaluation, however. The meeting's video is available on the town's website, and revaluation discussion begins at 10 minutes and 24 seconds.

The town, in the newsletter, also notes that revaluation is not the same thing raising more tax money.

“Reassessment will not increase the amount of money raised in property taxes. It will better reflect market value and bring equity in the distribution of the existing tax burden.”

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