The Assessment Increases
Note – For more information on each topic (including explanations, discussions, and all sources), use the links provided. They will take you to the relevant posts in Maria’s Corner.
Schaffer and the Town Board have raised our assessments drastically three times in the last 4 years - in 2020, 2022 and 2023. The reassessments were done at a time when the housing market was insanely high (with houses being sold for cash, way above normal prices). We are left with extremely high assessments that are not realistic.
(Post – Assessments Post #1)
Why is this important?
Very simply, we are taxed based on the assessment of our house (per thousand dollars). If your assessment goes up, you will pay more than you would have before it increased.
(Post – Assessments Post #1)
Were the increases equal for everyone?
Houses worth the least received the greatest (percentage increases), while the houses worth the most received the least increases (by percentage). In the 2022 and 2023 increases, the least expensive houses received increases of about 53%. The houses with mid-range values received increases of about 35%, and the most expensive houses received increases of about 27%.
Also importantly, while they raised residential assessments and taxes dramatically, they did NOT increase those of businesses.
Did this need to happen?
No other Town in Broome County raised their assessments.
NYS is one of the few states that does not require reassessments at all.
In fact, (other than Vestal) the last Town in Broome County to conduct a reassessment was in 2014, the Town of Triangle (they claimed 100% equalization, full market value, until 2019 based on that reassessment).
Schaffer and the Town Board conducted full reassessments in 2020, 2022 and 2023.
(Post – Assessments #3).
Did the Town Assessor decide to conduct the reassessments on his own, without the Town Board’s approval?
Of course not.
The Town Assessor conducts the reassessments, but the Town Board decides whether or not there will be one. The Board actively decided to conduct reassessments and keep houses at 100% equalization (full market value), despite the crazy housing market. The idea that the Town Assessor somehow went rogue is preposterous, he answers to the Board.
Then why would they do it?
The reality is that they wanted to increase taxes and they didn’t want to tell you about it.
Schaffer and the Town Board have substantially increased the budget (spending) over their tenure. In 2015, Vestal’s total budget was about 25.4 million dollars (25,398,779 dollars), in 2023 it is about 33.2 million dollars (33,239,634 dollars). An increase of almost 8 million dollars.
(Post – Budget)
And therein lies the problem…
Why is increasing the Budget a problem?
When you increase the budget, you must increase taxes and/or increase debt. Schaffer and the Town Board are doing both. As of April 2022, The Town of Vestal (not including the Vestal Fire Department) was in debt over 13 million dollars (13,135,302 dollars). Since then, they have authorized 6.5 million dollars in new spending, authorizing bonds (2 million for a water and sewer line, 4 million to rebuild the pool and 500,000 dollars for highway repairs).
Additionally, Schaffer has stated that he will build a new Town Hall.
Debt must be repaid.
Note - The Board now claims that they have found emergency funding for the pool. Two questions arise - Why didn't they try to find funding before authorizing bonds to pay for it? Will they still spend the 4 million dollars they authorized? They won't say.
(Post – Budget)
A side note:
At the same time that they were drastically increasing assessments and increasing taxes, Schaffer raised his own salary (and the salaries of his key personnel), almost doubling them, and hid it…but that’s another story.
(Post – Salaries)
So, what is to be done?
It has to change.
A number of residents attended a recent Town meeting to tell the Board that they know that the newest assessment increases will bring another tax increase, but they won’t be able to afford it. They will be priced out of their homes. The Board members answered them (one after another) that they should be happy, their house is worth a lot, and they can get a lot of money for it.
That is unacceptable.
The residents of Vestal want to live here.
It is the Board’s job to ensure that taxes are as reasonable as possible.
Pressconnect (WBNG) article: Frustrated residents over assessments/taxes
(Subscribers use link, non-subcribers, see article below.)
Glenn, Robert, and I will put us on the road to recovery.
What must be done:
Assessments must be decreased
Taxes must be controlled (with the goal of eventually reducing them)
The current assessment grievance process must be reformed to ensure that residents receive a fair review of their assessment.
In order to do this, the budget must be reduced.
We will do it gradually and responsibly:
Revaluating all expenditures
Maintaining all essential town services
Slowly decreasing the Town workforce (through attrition)
Protecting our hardworking Town employees
(Post - Budget)
Glenn, Robert and I will do all of this completely transparently. You will know and understand all the problems we need to address, and you will have a real say in what is done.
We can fix this.
Your vote is important.
Maria Sexton for Vestal Supervisor
Glenn Miller for Vestal Town Council
Robert Greene for Vestal Town Council
~ Maria ~
Pressconnect article referred to above:
WBNG Article Aug. 22, 2023 – Frustrated residents over assessments/taxes