Our Assessments - The Mess the Town Board Has Made
I. The Article
II. Sources of Information (Links to the New York State Website)
I. The Article:
In Vestal, we have had three drastic assessment increases over the last 4 years.
Schaffer and the Town Board have made many claims about the reassessments, all blaming others.
New York State required the reassessments in Vestal.
Unlike most states, New York State does not mandate towns to conduct reassessments.
In fact, most towns in Broome County have not reassessed their properties in many years.
The Town assessor acts on his own, and the Town Board cannot interfere with the assessment increases.
In all Towns, the local assessor conducts reassessments, calculates each assessment (based on real market value) and submits the new assessments (“Assessment Roll”) to the County and the State.
The Town Board, though, decides the policies regarding reassessments. Those policies determine when (or if) reassessments will be made.
It would be illegal for the Town Board to interfere with the reassessment process.
It is illegal for the Town Board to interfere with how the assessor calculates the assessments. The Town Board members cannot pressure the assessor to set the assessment of any property (theirs, their friends, etc.) at an artificially low rate.
The Town Board, though, decides the policies regarding reassessments. Their policies determine when (or if) reassessments are done.
NY State mandates that all assessments must be at 100% equalization (100% of full market value) at all times.
Vestal is the only town in Broome County that has maintained a policy of keeping assessments at 100% Equalization (full market value). New York State does not mandate it.
Out of seventeen towns in Broome County, only four have maintained the policy of keeping assessments at full market value (at any point in the last fifteen years):
As indicated above, those towns are:
Barker (from 2012 until 2016)
Lisle (from 2013 until 2017)
Triangle (from 2014 until 2019)
They all abandoned the policy, before the housing market went out of control.
Vestal did not.
Vestal is the only town in Broome County that maintains that policy today, as shown below:
2022 Equalization chart
(Property Assessment Comparison)
The numbers indicate what percentage of full market value the houses are assessed at.
100% = The houses are assessed at full market value
59% = The houses are assessed at 59% of full market value
Although NYS does not require reassessments, it does have an incentive program to encourage towns to reassess their properties periodically. Participating towns must conduct a reassessment once every 4 years and set their assessments at 100% of full market value during that assessment. The program is optional, and towns can pull out of it at any time without penalty (but would have to give back any money the state has paid them in advance).
Only a handful of towns in NYS participate in the program. The vast majority never participate in the program and never assess their properties at full market value.
Why are high assessments a problem?
Higher assessments do not increase the value of your house. No matter what your assessment is (or isn’t), your house will sell for the same price (dependent on the housing market). It simply increases the taxes that you pay while you own your house.
Assessments are used to determine how much your taxes will be.
You are taxed per thousand dollars of the established assessment of your house. When your assessments go up, you pay the additional taxes on the amount that it has increased.
Schaffer and the Town Board have gotten us into quite a mess.
There are only two possibilities, either they are outright lying, or they just don’t know anything about assessments.
In either case it’s unacceptable.
So, what can be done?
Now that our houses are set at full market value, it isn’t possible to just lower them arbitrarily. (If a way can be found, we will.)
However, we can (and will):
End the policy of 100% equalization (and reassessments)
When the housing market goes down, conduct a reassessment, lowering the assessments as much as possible.
Completely revamp the assessment grievance procedure to ensure that each resident obtains a fair, impartial hearing.
Work on the budget to make sure that we can afford the reduced income when we can reduce assessments.
You have a choice
Vote for responsible Town leadership
Glenn, Robert and I will ensure that you understand all the issues and have a real say in what policies and decisions are made.
~ Maria ~
II. Sources of information (New York State and Broome County websites), as follows:
2008 – 2022 New York State Equalization charts:
(Assessment comparisons for the towns in Broome County)
(On MuniPro homepage: Go to Assessment Equity Charts, then limit it to Broome County. You can view all the comparison charts from 2008 until today.)
NYS Chart showing the most recent assessments in each town in Broome County:
“Unlike most states, New York State does not require municipalities to conduct reassessments.”
State Reassessment Incentive Program: