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Committee Recommends Revaluation for New Castle

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. -- The financial advisory committee is recommending New Castle's town and school boards lobby Westchester officials to begin the process of a county-wide property revaluation.

"The local governments and school districts are being swamped with a record number of tax grievances in the declining real estate market," said Kathy Forsberg, a member of the committee.

Forsberg believes a revaluation would more accurately reflect the market value of the properties so that the property owners would be assessed their fair share of the tax burden. She said New Castle's properties have not been assessed since 1987.

"What’s happening now is the tax burden has shifted to those who don’t try to get their properties reassessed," Forsberg said.

The committee believes that a revaluation would bring more consistency to the tax offices in the county and would significantly reduce small claims assessment reviews (SCARS) and tax certiorari refunds. 

James Timmings, Mount Pleasant's tax assessor, estimates that one-third of the residents in the district would pay more taxes after reassessments, one-third would pay less and one-third would pay the same.

While a property revaluation could shift the tax burden more fairly, school board member Jeff Mester said it is a costly process that would have little effect on the district from a financial standpoint.

“Obviously I’d like it to be fair to the community, but from the district’s standpoint, we’re gonna collect $101 million next year if the vote passes,” said Mester. “Who we get it from is their problem I guess.”

In the district's current proposed budget, about $101 million of its $112 million budget is being paid for with property taxes.

"The theory, and I think that’s what everybody is dreaming of, is that they’re gonna do some major reassessment and all of our taxes are gonna go down dramatically," said School Board President Alyson Kiesel. "But it’s not gonna happen."

Timmings said even if a revaluation were done, it would not initially lower the amount of certiorari claims. Timmings believes that owners of properties that have been assessed higher would be upset and could possibly challenge their new assessments.

"Theoretically you should do regular revaluations. It’s the way to do things. It’s equitable to everybody," Timmings said. "But, you know, with short staffs and not a lot money, from either the state or the county or the localities, the likelihood of it happening, in my opinion, is slim to none."

The financial advisory committee's presentation can be seen on the Chappaqua Central School District's website.


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