What do updated assessments mean for you?
Recently, Claverack property owners received a notice from Town of Claverack Assessor Charles Brewer regarding their new preliminary assessments. These assessments were the result of a town wide revaluation to bring all assessments up to current full-market value. It’s important that we understand what a revaluation does, and doesn’t do. I’ll try to explain that a bit below for you.
BACKGROUND -- It’s been ten years (2011) since the Town of Claverack completed a revaluation; a process that does not necessarily increase taxes, but rather revaluates everyone’s property to ensure no one is paying more than their fair share of the tax levy. All municipalities conduct revaluations to ensure compliance with State standards requiring that assessments be at a uniform percentage of market value. In other words, we need to make sure that property owner "John Jones" is paying the same percentage of value as property owner "Sally Smith." It’s simply about fairness and equity.
THE PROCESS -- The town wide reassessment project was a collaborative effort of the Town Assessor's office and the Columbia County Real Property Tax Service Agency. Columbia County assisted the Assessor with data verification, valuation support and guidance throughout the project.
In January 2020, data collectors began data verification and took photos for the Assessor of all parcels in the Town. In September 2020, a letter was sent to residential property owners which showed the inventory for their property; such as land size, square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, pools, garages, sheds, etc. Property owners at that time were asked to review the data and return any corrections to the Assessor. The Assessor then reviewed the corrections and updated his file accordingly.
The final stage of the project was to value the properties based on the updated inventory. Once valuation was completed, notices of preliminary assessments/market value were mailed to all property owners in March 2021.
WHAT DOES A HIGHER ASSESSED VALUE MEAN FOR YOU -- First and foremost, it is expected that your assessment will rise over the course of ten years. This is perfectly normal. A higher assessment does not necessarily mean that your property taxes will go up. In fact, most property owner’s town taxes will stay the same or even go down – even though their assessments went up. Weird, right? Not really, if you understand the process. Let me try to explain.
Think of the total amount of taxes collected as a pie. A revaluation does not increase the size of the pie. The pie (tax levy) stays exactly the same. The revaluation simply ensures that the pie is cut up fairly; that taxes are fairly distributed based on current market values.
That said, you may feel that the Assessor is valuing your property for more than it’s worth, resulting in you paying more than your fair share of the tax burden. If that’s the case, keep reading for information on how to protest your assessment.
DISPUTING YOUR ASSESSMENT -- Let’s face it, you may not agree with the Assessor on the valuation of your property. In the 2021 Assessment Notification that was mailed to all property owners on March 18th and 19th, property owners who disagree with their preliminary assessment were advised to schedule an appointment to speak with a representative of the Assessor's office. All information/documentation from those meetings are forwarded to the Assessor and a final review of those assessments will be completed by the Assessor. Property owners that scheduled an appointment will receive the Assessor's decision in early May.
The tentative assessment roll will be filed on or about May 1, 2021 and will be published online. If any property owner at that time does not agree with their tentative assessment they can complete a grievance application (RP-524) and submit it to the Town Board of Assessment Review on or before Grievance Day, May 25, 2021.
I hope I’ve been able to help you better understand the revaluation process and what the end result may mean for you.
I’m including here a brochure from the New York State Office of Real Property Tax Services, that addresses some of the frequently asked questions about the reassessment process.
I would encourage anyone with questions to contact the County Real Property Tax Service Agency, the Town Assessors office or a member of the Town Board.
We've worked hard to keep town taxes low, even cutting taxes the past several years. This revaluation project is not an attempt to raise taxes, I give you my word on that. It's simply about making sure that the existing tax burden is distributed fairly and equitably.
Again, if you have questions, please call the County Real Property Tax Service Agency and they'll help you understand the process. If you think the Assessor has your property valued too high, dispute your assessment following the steps outlined above.