BY STEVEN WHITE
On November 30, 2016, Spring Valley trustees Grossman, Fonvil and McGill voted to abolish the assessor’s office. This was done over the objections of the assessor and the mayor and Deputy Mayor Emilia White.
The stated purpose was to consolidate government services for efficiency. There was no study, analysis or plan for how the village would transition from doing its own assessments to using the assessments of the towns of Ramapo and Clarkstown. There was no discussion of any possible impact on Spring Valley taxpayer’s bills.
NY State requires that property assessments be fair and uniform. The New York State Board of Real Property Services guidance says: “Regularly scheduled appraisal of all parcels – at least once every four years – is necessary to maintain assessment equity.” It has been decades since Ramapo has done a re-assessment. This should have been a red flag to the trustees before they voted to abolish the village assessor and depend on the town.
In June 2017 tax bills were sent out from the village that were wildly inconsistent with the 2016 bills. Some taxpayers saw an increase of thousands of dollars from 2016.
Then, on June 13, 2017, the same three trustees passed a resolution which states that the bills are erroneous, but outrageously still requires Ramapo taxpayers to pay the incorrect amounts!
The resolution states taxpayers are “entitled to” file an application “seeking a settlement” for 75 percent of the wrongfully collected taxes!!!
An analysis of the new tax structure shows both inaccuracy and bias. Smaller homes that have sold for $150 thousand are assessed at a higher value than newer, larger ones that have sold in the $500-600 thousand range.
These smaller, older homes are paying more tax. Many are occupied by long-time residents, Seniors on fixed incomes. The larger newer homes tend to be owned by LLCs and out of town investors.
It is very likely that many of our seniors, veterans, and others on fixed income will not be able to pay this excessive tax and will lose their homes. It is likely that the LLCs and out of town real estate speculators will snatch up these properties. Solicitors are already knocking on doors throughout the village, looking to profit from other’s misfortune.
I spoke with a 98-year-old woman who saw a 38 percent increase in her village tax bill. She is living off social security. She says the tax increase will mean she can buy less groceries.
I spoke with an 80-year-old retired woman who is taking jobs cleaning houses to pay a 60 percent tax increase this year.
I spoke to a volunteer fireman whose taxes went up by over $10,000 in one year! He says he has no choice but to move. What a loss for our village!
Compare the fate of these hard-working citizens to the corporations that got fat tax reductions: JHW Construction, owner of Regency Village, got a $230,000 reduction in its 2017 tax bill. 282 N Main LLC , owner of Cadillac Manor, got a $130,000 reduction. Country Village Towers, owner of 101 Kennedy Drive, got $75,000.
Do trustees Grossman, Fonvil, and McGill comprehend the immense destruction they have caused to the people of the village of Spring Valley? Was it simple incompetence, or did they know who they would be benefiting?
List of problems with the dissolution of the Spring Valley Tax Assessor:
1. No transition plan to using the town assessments.
2. No mention of changing assessed value for purpose of calculating Spring Valley taxes when resolution abolishing SV tax assessor was being considered.
3. Errors were made when calculating taxes.
4. Specific nature of the errors never disclosed.
5. Resolution addressing errors allows them to stand in one town (Ramapo)
6. Process to seek “relief” from errors does not give adequate notice to taxpayers.
7. Process to provide “relief” to taxpayers sets an arbitrary limit.
8. No attempt is made to review impact of assessment change on taxpayers; no attempt to prevent disproportionate impact of protected classes.
9. Town of Ramapo assessments appear to be inaccurate, because they are based on grievances and not revaluation.
Here is a PowerPoint of the review I did of one street in Spring Valley: https://1drv.ms/p/s!AkecAvoAYI3UhMkJupwAaQGmiKWr-g
Steven White is a community activist from Spring Valley and former school board candidate for East Ramapo School District. He is married to Spring Valley Deputy Mayor Emilia White. His website is www.poweroften.us.