With tax season on the horizon and property tax assessments out, discontented residents are preparing to grieve taxes they view as unfit or unfair.
About one dozen Piermont residents gathered at on Tuesday night to start the grieving process. (Others submitted their grievances by mail.) According to Brian Kenney, the village and town assessor, some 350 residents filed grievances last year—but only a handful were for Piermont. The rest fell under Orangetown's purview.
"The village tax is just a small portion," Kenney explained. "The town tax takes up a larger percent, and school taxes the largest percent." Still, Kenney is expecting more grievances this year than last.
Kenney noted there are some property assessment trends in and around Piermont: modest homes are sometime over-assessed, and more opulent houses—like those at Sneden's Landing Landing—can be under-assessed.
The last time Orangetown reassessed its properties was in 1987; Piermont did so in 2005. When a municipality reassesses, homeowners' tax rates often change. When Piermont revalued six years ago, for example, the condominiums at Piermont Landing were affected majorly. Units that were once assessed at approximately $200,000 were then valued at over $1 million—and some residents' property taxes nearly doubled.
"Residents were livid," explained former trustee and Piermont's Independent Budget Committee chair Fred Devan. But frequent reassessments make for fair tax rates, Devan added.
Residents at Tuesday's meeting expressed qualms with hefty taxes, and asked village officials what steps they are taking to tackle the issue.
"People are seeing Piermont is highly taxed place, and people are having trouble selling homes," said one Paradise Harbor resident to Kenney and village trustees. "What are you doing about that?"
"Decreasing taxes is a difficult thing," Kenney responded. "Infrastructure is getting older, and pensions are getting bigger." He explained that one possible cut could be made in the schools, if teachers took smaller step increases and pay raises.
"New York State, and not just Piermont, is facing a tax crisis," Kenney added.
Christopher Sanders, Piermont's mayor, noted it would be difficult to trim the village's budget, too, but the board will do its best. Significant portions of the budget go toward the village's own Police Department and DPW.
"These are expensive to maintain, but they [yield] benefits you see everyday," Sanders said.