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Assessing Somers' Tax Grievance Day

SOMERS, N.Y. – Tuesday was Tax Grievance Day in Somers, the deadline for filing a grievance if you think your property assessment is too high.

Somers Tax Assessor Teresa Stegner said she expected fewer grievance applications this year than last year.

“We’ll probably get something in the high 300s,” she said. “I have found that more homeowners represented themselves this year, instead of hiring professionals. It’s cheaper, of course, and it’s really not that hard to do.”

Stegner said the outcome of Grievance Day in 2011 was a total decline in the assessment roll of $1,305,181. That was the difference between assessments before and after all the grievances were settled.

“Because of the grievance process, the total assessed value goes down. But it erodes the tax base, so the overall tax rate gets higher,” Stegner said. “When you lower an assessment, you raise the tax rate. On an individual level, it helps one person, but hurts everyone else.”

In 2011, for example the tax rate rose 12.15 percent. As a result of grievances – and related lowering of assessments – this year’s tax rate, traditionally established in May, has climbed 13 percent. “As the tax rate goes up,” said Stegner, “the market is falling.”

The tax assessor’s primary responsibility is to calculate the value of the town’s individual properties. The information is then passed to the tax collector, who determines the appropriate amount of property tax due. The assessor does not levy the taxes, nor determine how much they should be.

An assessor’s evaluation can serve as an insurance guideline, but should not be confused with a property’s market value. Although market values have decreased in recent years, especially those of larger homes, the market value is usually higher than the assessed value.

For more information on how to determine whether your tax assessment is accurate, click here .

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