Written by Wendy Karpel Kreitzman Friday, 26 November 2010 00:00
At a special informational meeting at Great Neck House last Wednesday evening, Nov. 17, Village of Great Neck officials and consultants explained the Old Village’s new property reassessment and answered audience questions. Consultants from appraisal firms Standard Valuation Services and Michael Haberman Associates, Inc. joined Village of Great Neck Mayor Ralph Kreitzman, Deputy Mayor Mitchell Beckerman, trustees Mark Birnbaum and Bart Sobel, and village assessor John Dominsky in helping residents make sense of what the mayor termed “a very confusing topic.”
Mayor Kreitzman opened the session stating that village officials believed that the village had to go through the reassessment process, as the village tax roles were “out of whack” and Nassau County tax rolls were “no better.” He further explained that the reassessment has been done in accordance with New York State law. All property in the village is being reassessed “at a fair value” by the two assessment consulting firms that have much local experience in reassessment. The mayor said that now “every property owner in the village will pay a fair share of the village tax.”
Mayor Kreitzman also stated that the reassessment should cut down “significantly” on all of the tax certioraris (grievances) brought against the village, also a cost-saving benefit. Also all village property will now be in two classes: one-family and two-family homes in one class, and all other property in a second class.
The mayor went on to explain that this reassessment is only for village taxes, and village taxes (excluding sewer taxes for those properties serviced by the village’s sewer plant) are less than 15 percent of a total tax bill. “There is no change in the total amount of taxes” to be collected by the village.
In a brief explanation of the process, the mayor said that the consultants began to collect data about eight months ago and began to analyze and work on the data. When property owners received information in the mail regarding their property, a record number (50 percent) responded. From there preliminary valuations were drawn up. At this point in time, the mayor explained that property owners with questions should call the consultants (phone numbers included with reassessment information mailed to each village property owner), talk to them specifically about their property, and set up appointments if necessary.
Mr. Dominsky said that the final reassessment numbers will be published Feb. 1, 2011 for the June 2011 taxes.
Assessment consultant Matthew Smith spoke next, echoing many of the mayor’s statements. Mr. Smith emphasized that benefits (following reassessment) include eliminating unfair assessments (and providing “fair and equitable values”), as well as providing “consistency.” In addition, Mr. Smith said that the reassessments should reduce lawsuits and refunds. “The values are more defendable now,” he said. In addition, Mr. Smith said that the reassessment is “revenue neutral,” not producing any new funds for the village.
As for the reassessment process, Mr. Smith said that they used the village’s (very old) assessment roll as well as county inventory as a starting point. In the process they referred to Village of Great Neck property sales over the last three years; they looked at both residential and commercial property. They also reviewed construction records. The next step was to send individual assessment information to each property owners. The consultants also used aerial photography and actually went out and looked at certain properties.
The reassessment process also included “taking in to account external influences,” such as if a house backs up to commercial property or is on an exceptionally busy street. They also looked at village neighborhoods. Also, every commercial property and properties with large assessment increases were carefully reviewed.
Exemptions, too, were checked. Both Mr. Smith and Mayor Kreitzman assured that all existing tax exemptions (i.e. veterans’ exemptions, senior citizen exemptions, firefighter exemptions, etc.) would continue to the fullest extent permitted by law.
Mr. Smith reported that, in response to information sent to each property owner, the response was excellent and the consultants received “only about 50 calls” and a few requests for appointments.
Concluding, Mr. Smith stated that there are several benefits to this reassessment: fair and equitable values for all properties; produce an accurate physical inventory; insure property owners pay their fair share of the tax; provide a stable tax base; produce assessments at 100 percent market value; provide current accurate assessments; use of the homestead tax option where there are separate classes for residential and commercial property.
At the end of the informational session, Mr. Smith and Mayor Kreitzman again emphasized that the reassessment is not a tax increase.