Assessments in the town of Whitehall will increase on average 15-percent.
Town assessor Mary-Ellen Pierce said that based on state equalization rates, the town would be assessed at 85-percent if a change was not made.
“The state told us that the assessments would be 15-percent low if we kept the amounts where they are now,” said Pierce. “We did an analysis of the information to show uniformly that the assessments were in line at 85-percent, and we then adjusted all assessments by 15-percent except on parcels that either have new construction or demolition.”
Pierce said that while the town assessment roles increased in general by 15-percent, taxes would either increase or decrease independently of that figure.
“The town, county, village school all need to raise the same amount of money no matter what the assessment value is,” said Pierce. “So you will most likely see tax rates go down. Because your assessment is going up 15-percent, that does not mean that your taxes are going up 15-percent.”
Pierce said that the biggest question that residents have when they receive the letter from her office telling them that their assessments are increasing is why each year shows a 100-percent level of assessment but shows different assessed value amounts.
“People will ask me why last year was at 100-percent yet this year went,” said Pierce. “If we did not change the assessed value this year, then the level of assessment would have only been 85-percent, which means that we had to increase the assessed value to have a 100-percent level of assessment.
In the letter, residents will see the assessed value for 2008 and 2009 along with the net change, along with statistics for the level of assessment for their property and the market value in 2008 and 2009.
Residents will also receive numbers relating to their approximate tax liability for 2008 and 2009 based on the 2008 taxable assessed value and 2009 preliminary taxable assessed value for the county, town, school and village.
Pierce said that an increase in assessed property value would also equal an increase in a residents’ STAR exemption.
“The STAR amounts would be larger,” said Pierce. “We will not know those specific figures until June.”
Pierec did say that the STAR Rebates would remain in place for the school taxes in 2009, but that the rebate checks that homeowners were receiving in the fall were no longer going to be issued as part of the new state budget.
“For school tax purposes, the STAR rebate is still in place,” she said.
Pierce also said that the assessment roles are checked on a year-to-year basis, and shifts in the market will impact the roles.
“If the market drops, I would lower the assessment just as I would raise the assessments if the markets increase,” said Pierce. “At this point, the problems with the housing market have not hit here.”
Pierce said that actual numbers on town-wide assessment values would be available after the assessment roles are filed with the state, which is scheduled for May 1.