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North Salem Assessor Explains, Advises

Even though she has to field the occasional irate citizen, North Salem’s Town Assessor, Karen Futia likes her job. “It’s particularly enjoyable because of the town’s rural nature and open spaces,” she told The Daily North Salem. “It’s easy to tell that people who work here [at Town Hall] enjoy their jobs, work hard, and try to be helpful to anyone in need of assistance.”

Futia believes that the North Salem real estate market has been declining at about the same rate as elsewhere in Westchester. Though assessments are based on market values, it does not necessarily mean that taxes will change in proportion. 

When market values go down, “if the taxing jurisdiction needs to collect the same amount of money, taxes will remain the same,” she explained.

In 2009, North Salem received 39 grievance submissions. In 2010, 97 were presented to the Board of Assessment. Of those, 36 received tax reductions. Futia points out that “approximately 50 percent of those [who] successfully reduced, filed on their own behalf,” that is, without an outside representative.

Unless an individual property is personally viewed, it can be difficult to estimate market value. Making improvements that add value to your property as a whole will increase your assessment, she explained.

“If you plan on doing improvements to your property, you may make a request in writing for an estimate of what the possible implications to the assessment will be," Futia said.

But remember, the Town Assessor juggles a lot of different responsibilities -- including assessing the value of properties, but she does not set the tax rates. The rates are decided by the Board of Assessors.

If you feel unfairly assessed, you can file a complaint. Grievance Day in North Salem is always the Third Tuesday in June.

There is a link on the Town's website that explains, “What to do if you disagree with your assessment” that contains the necessary forms to file a grievance. It can be found here.

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