Setting the record straight on assessments

By on April 22, 2019

Your property’s assessment is probably the single most important piece of data you have as a taxpayer. It determines what your share of the tax levy is for the town, the school, the county and the fire district. The Town of Clarkson is doing a major reassessment this year and many property values are increasing more than property owners expected.

Unfortunately, it is also an election year and some will use this very necessary reassessment as a political weapon. Assessments should never be a political weapon – they should be done openly, fairly and as prescribed by law. That is what your current Clarkson Town Board is committed to doing.

The New York State Office of Real Property tells municipalities when their assessments have dropped below market values as determined by New York State. If the municipality does not take corrective action, the State can withhold state aid and can assign an equalization factor that could punish Clarkson property taxpayers. Clarkson’s assessments have dropped below market value and we must take action to bring them up to the market value that New York State has determined. Our assessor has been actively working on this major update for more than two years.

It is important to note that New York State requires that Towns appoint Assessor to six-year terms. That is to protect assessors from political influence. No other Town employee receives six year appointments. Town Boards may not interfere in the assessment process. The whole process, from beginning to end is prescribed by New York State. The Town Board’s role is to provide the Assessor with the resources they need to do their job. We have done that. Clarkson has had a consultant helping our Assessor for two years to be sure that the roll is completed professionally and fairly.

That does not mean that residents cannot challenge their assessment. Quite the opposite, the system is designed to allow residents ample opportunity to challenge assessments – through informal reviews (currently being conducted); on Grievance Day before the Board of Assessment Review and finally, through Small Claims Court.

As far as your property tax goes, New York State has made permanent the property tax cap. I cannot speak for the school, county or fire district, but I can tell you that the Town of Clarkson will remain within the tax cap this year. Your town taxes may go up, they may stay the same, they may go down; it depends on how much your property’s assessment changed in relation to every other taxable property in the town.

Before you allow fear mongers to turn this important municipal function into a political free-for-all, please take the time to work through the assessment process – have an informal review, appear before the Grievance Board, file a Small Claim. When the roll is complete in July, we will be happy to sit down with you and show you what the actual effect on your town taxes will be.

Christa L. Filipowicz


Town of Clarkson