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May 14, 2019 4:56 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Town Board Approves Two-Year Freeze On Tax Assessments On Tuesday

The Southampton Town Board listened to concerns from the public prior to passing a resolution authorizing the freeze. VALERIE GORDON
May 14, 2019 4:56 PM

The Southampton Town Board unanimously approved a two-year freeze on property assessments on Tuesday—a move that will allow a newly appointed committee the opportunity to review and potentially amend the town’s policy of adjusting property values annually in response to market trends.

The municipality is one of only two Long Island towns to assess its properties based on “100-percent full valuation.”

Every four years, the town’s assessors conduct a full reassessment of the 52 neighborhoods in the town to ensure that every property is assessed based on its true market value. However, every year, property assessments increase based on market trends, in an attempt to lessen the blow. Essentially, rather than homeowners facing one single overwhelming increase every four years, they are faced with smaller incremental increases each year.

Those assessments are primarily based on comparable properties in the area: as those nearby properties sell, the value of a neighboring house can rise or fall based on those transactions.

This year, based on a full reassessment, the town saw an overall 10-percent increase in property value. At Tuesday’s Town Board meeting, several homeowners explained that their property value increased, in some cases, by 49 percent.

Hampton Bays resident Ray DeAngelo said that his assessment increased by approximately $220,000 following the most recent reassessment cycle. “That’s a hefty number for someone to pick up in one year,” he said.

Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman referred to the temporary suspension as pressing a “pause button.”

He explained that while the two-year freeze will not affect those tax bills, it will prevent them from increasing further. He added that the freeze will go into effect with the next assessment cycle, which, prior to the resolution’s passing, was due to commence within the next few weeks.

While the move will prevent assessments from increasing, taxpayers will still be allowed to grieve their values in an attempt to lower the value of their property, and, in turn, their tax bill.

The committee tasked with analyzing the town’s assessment policy will also be in charge of making recommendations to amend the policy. The committee includes Mr. Schneiderman, Southampton Town Sole Assesor Lisa Goree, as well as the town’s comptroller, attorney, and a representative from the real estate community and a real property appraisal expert, according to the approved resolution.

At the Town Board meeting, Mr. Schneiderman suggested one such recommendation: to permanently freeze property assessments for seniors living off of a fixed income. “I think that could be a good permanent solution,” he said.

Michael Daly, a member of the Southampton Town Zoning Board of Appeals, even recommended extending that permanent freeze to include homeowners with legal accessory apartments, noting that they obviously need the income.

Additionally, Mr. Schneiderman suggested limiting the percentage by which assessments can rise in any given year to 2 or 5 percent.

Members of the community, who spoke at Tuesday’s meeting, also offered recommendations, such as increasing tax bills belonging to properties owned by limited liability companies or corporations.

Southampton Town Attorney James Burke said he was unsure of the legality of the suggestion, but noted that he would “look into it.”

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They aren't doing anyone any favors - they got a 60% increase over the last 2 years.
By even flow (1023), East Hampton on May 15, 19 11:47 AM
1 member liked this comment
Grieve Grieve Grieve your property taxes NOW. It costs nothing, and may be the only chance you'll have to save before local officials adopt the same strategy we're seeing Democrats employing in Nassau. Full ground up reassessment, with, overnight, much higher taxes for areas that don't support them and much lower taxes in the areas hosting their supporters.
By MoronEliminator (215), Montauk on May 15, 19 1:45 PM
You aren't grieving your property taxes...you're grieving your assessment. Schools makeup over 70% of your property taxes so make your vote on the proposed budget increases.
May 16, 19 6:17 AM appended by dhehyo
You aren't grieving your property taxes...you're grieving your assessment. Schools makeup over 70% of your property taxes so make you vote on the proposed budget increases.
By dhehyo (11), Southampton on May 16, 19 6:17 AM