Saturday, October 24, 2009


Members of the Town Board attended a ceremony celebrating the construction of six three bedroom units on Warren Ave to be sold for affordable homeownership. The estimated completion of the construction is late spring, 2010. Units will be sold to families with incomes at or below 80% of the area median income which as of 2009 is $84,200 for a family of four. Houses will remain affordable for 40 years from the date of the initial sale (members of the Town Board are asking that this be modified so the units are affordable in perpetuity). The estimated sale price is $175,000. The project was developed by the Greenburgh Housing Development Corporation. The land was conveyed for affordable housing development by the town of Greenburgh. Federal/county grants were given to make the project affordable.

Over the last 10 years the town has lost over 25 million in assessments basically due to certiorari’s and small claims. The Town Board has asked the Real Property Advisory committee –which is comprised of the Town Assessor, village and school representatives (from each school and village) to put a presentation together to show why this has occurred and to make recommendations as to how to stop the bleeding. On Wednesday, November 28th this committee will give a brief overview on the work they have done since May, 2008. A detailed presentation will be made in November. I was just briefed on the report by the Assessor, Edye McCarthy who spent Saturday morning working with Paul Sterne, chair of the committee finalizing Wednesday’s presentation.

New York state officials met with town staff yesterday to discuss their plans for the TZ bridge. Among options that are under consideration: rapid bus stations along the 287 corridor. The locations that impact Greenburgh are 119 (Bed N Bath, Elmsford), property on Hillside Ave (abutting the Dannon property –which the town currently owns). This particular property will be auctioned off along with other properties on November 18th. The complete list of properties to be auctioned off will be on the town website next week: One can purchase the book for $5 at town hall.


hal samis said...

Howzat again department

"On Wednesday, November 28th this committee will give a brief overview on the work they have done since May, 2008. A detailed presentation will be made in November."


"I was just briefed on the report by the Assessor, Edye McCarthy who spent Saturday morning working with Paul Sterne, chair of the committee finalizing Wednesday’s presentation."

Or is it she spent Wednesday morning finalizing Saturday's presentation or is it October?

Here's my recommendation made this Saturday: Get rid of the assessor.

And from the I'd like to help you out, which way did you come in department also known as when is a sale not a sale...but hold on to your receipt.
1)The houses are to be SOLD to families with low income. Ok
2)The houses will remain affordable for 40 years (or in perpetuity)
3)The estimated sale price is $175,000
Time for a pop quiz:

The sale price, say 40 years from now, will be $____________________?

Does this offering have to be advertised to citizens from all over the country/county or do Federal Grant (and County) grant stipulations suddenly stop at borders?

Anonymous said...

Hal. Sometimes you're right. Sometimes you're wrong. Todays post is dumb

Anonymous said...

Hal: If you're not going to make sense on the blog, you're better off not writing!

Anonymous said...

The first amendment provides citizens with the right to express themselves, dumb or smart comments allowed.

hal samis said...

Dumbness is in the ire of the behoover...

If you're so smart, then perhaps you can inform readers when the breaking "news" from the Assessor will be unveiled: (choose a date)

November 28 is a Saturday, not a Wednesday per Feiner
If it is November that is correct, then the Town Board meeting (brief overview) would be Monday November 23.
However if he is talking about a Wednesday and the 28th, then he is talking about the Town Board meeting this month, OCTOBER.

He's your Supervisor, maybe you and he speak in tongues which only the two of you understand.

As for the housing which is to be SOLD, say @ $175,000, to someone who qualifies today (as owners, can they earn more in the future?), I was pointing out the obvious question that arises if you know how to read: what criteria do you use to determine at what price these OWNERS will sell THEIR house, say 40 years from now or the "in perpetuity" favored by the Town Board? Does this presage a new town post, Commissioner of Cryonics?

Here it is again for your interpretation; I offer you my condolences in advance.

"Houses will remain affordable for 40 years from the date of the initial sale..."

Just one possibility, if a house burns down during the 40 years and the price to rebuild it has gone up, will the owner have to sell it at a loss to comply with a pre-ordained pricing grid set by some group in 2010? Of course, in 40 years, you could always ask the incumbent, Supervisor Feiner.

Murghk said...

Mr. Feiner -
When you were told more than 17 years ago that unless you took the courageous step of revaluing Greenburgh the property tax burden would become unbearable, you opted to wait it out because you believed that by the time it was a problem you would be in Congress. Your much ballyhooed blue ribbon citizens committee told you to do something, but you circularly-filed their report. Now you've apparently hidden the report of the special citizen's committee you appointed last year - your office says they reported in April, but there doesn't seem to be a mention in the Town Board's minutes.
What's the matter? Did you read something critical of your attitude and/or aptitude?

Michael Kolesar said...

Why wait to "whenever"? Here's a preview based upon the April document. My own editorial comments are added in brackets [ ]. Need a copy, contact me.

Due to size restrictions, this may have to be a series of messages.

* * * * * * *
Town of Greenburgh has not been reassessed since 1953
• This has allowed inequities to accumulate in the Assessment Roll
• Based on the way of system works, undervalued properties cannot be revalued to market; there is no mechanism
• Overvalued properties are reset to market through the so-called Certiorari grievance process
• The only way to fix the accumulated inequities is to re-assess the entire Town
• But that is expensive; $100 per property; there are 28,000 properties – $3 million [ I believe that the cost is more likely to be in the $150 to $200 per parcel, making the estimated cost closer to $ 6 million. That’s based on numbers from Nassau County and that took place some years ago.]
• Reassessment would fix inequities within a ‘category’ of
properties, not inequities between categories

Residential Properties

Residential properties are supposed to be based upon fair market value.

Each year NYS Office of Real Estate Services takes (I believe it is only a sample) all transactions in a jurisdiction for a fiscal year and calculates the mathematical relationship between the market value of these transactions and the properties’ assessment values. The mathematical relationship is
call the Residential Assessment Ratio or RAR. [ Example, a property sold for $500,000 that had an assessed value of $15,000 would have an RAR of 3% ( $15,000 / $ 500,000]

RAR is the [dollar] weighted average value for a jurisdiction in a particular
fiscal year, so half of the transactions [by weighted dollar, not numerical] are above the average and half are below.
Assessment Value of an individual property is then divided (grossed
up) by the RAR to determined its ‘Residential Market Value’
If ‘Residential Market Value’ is above its true market value
(appraisal), then a property owner can file a Certiorari to have their
Assessment Value decreased to bring it back in line with its market
If ‘Residential Market Value’ is below its true market value
(appraisal), owner generally takes no action
Assessment Value is multiplied by Tax Rate to calculate the Tax Bill

Recent RAR’s for Greenburgh have been:

Year Residential
Assessment Ratio
2000 5.38
2001 4.84
2002 4.32
2003 3.81
2004 3.33
2005 2.97
2006 2.68
2007 2.55 2008 2.64

Michael Kolesar said...

Part II

- Retail,
- Industrial
- Entertainment
- Apartments
- Condos/Coops

These are assessed using ‘the income” method.

The rental ‘net operating income’ (“NOI”)
that the property earns [or would earn if it
were a rental property] is multiplied or
grossed up by the ‘capitalization rate’ [No clear definition as to what the “true” capitalization rate ought to be. Note the higher the capitalization rate, the lower the gross up. A capitalization rate of 20% yields a multiplier of 5, while a capitalization rate of 10% yields a multiplier of 10. Thus it is to a commercial property owner’s interest to try to get as high a capitalization rate as possible. Second, one needs to understand all of the components of “NOI”, or “NOI” may be significantly understated] to
determine ‘Commercial Market Value’
For example, if NOI is $100,000 and the
capitalization rate is 10%, the property has a
‘Commercial Market Value’ of $1,000,000
Then the ‘Commercial Market Value’ is multiplied by the Equalization Rate to determine the Assessment Value
Once the Assessment Value is established, it is not changed unless the property is renovated or reduced by a Certiorari


Reassess entire Town every five years
– Restrict certioraris to once every five years to
reduce workload for Town and courts [May not be legally possible without legislative change and the commercial real estate special interests are powerful [ contribute to politician’s campaign funds and are well organized]]
• Move condos and coops from commercial
property definition to residential category [ State Senator Suzi Oppenheimer proposed this back in the Spring of 2009 and almost got her political head handed to her. Don’t expect Paul Feiner to support this one – there’s a lot of votes in Greenburgh’s condos.]

Anonymous said...

November 28th is a Saturday?

Anonymous said...

To 10/26/2009 7:54 AM

Yes -- November 28th is a Saturday -- what is so difficult????

Anonymous said...

Mike Kolesar just wrote an important bit of information. Why is nobody commenting on that, instead of debating the calendar?

Anonymous said...

Does the Supervisor support the proposed legislation moving coops/condos to the residential assessment section which they are and where they truly belong?
Yes or No?

hal samis said...

Dear Mike,

Instead of another complicated and costly conclusion by a committee,
I suggest keeping it simple.

Follow the NYC manual.

Assess @ 45% of the sale price of those properties actually sold.

This figure, the targeted assessment, is phased in over a five year period of 20% annual increases in assessment -- to ease the strain on buyers.

Only those properties sold result in higher assessments. This protects those who remain in place (real estate rich but cash poor) and shifts the burden to the buyer and the seller. The buyer, made aware of impending higher taxes, will pay a purchase price which, in a free market, will reflect the imposition of higher taxes. The "injured" party will be the seller who will likely suffer lowered sale proceeds as the result (it will cost the buyer more to live). Since the seller is the one leaving Greenburgh for greener climes, this will be the going away present that a spendthrift town board will deliver and the emigres will be unable to vent against the incumbents since they will no longer be able to vote locally.

For those remaining, their assessment will not rise even if the similar house next door sells at market price and is reassessed accordingly. This protects the owner in place against higher taxes.

Under the system in place in Greenburgh, no one is getting reassessed anyway so even the presumed "trickle" of sales and higher taxes would be better than nothing.

In time, the effect of sales, either newly constructed or resales, will raise ratables and tax coffers. No discussion, no favoritism, no politics, no negotiations, no certs, no lawyers, no appraisers...just the application of simple math and an Assessor who can operate a calculator.

Ayn Rand would smile.

Michael Kolesar said...

Dear Hal,

Any change in assessables does not in itself change the tax levy. The amount of the tax levy is established when the Supervisor and Town Board adopt a budget. Assessables are just used to allocate the tax levy, hopefully in a fair manner.

The present system has many weaknesses. Just to point out one, take for example someone who rips out wall to wall carpeting and installs a very high quality wood floor. Unless there is a alteration of the structure, this does not require a building permit. Building permits are the triggers for possible changes in assessables. There would be no doubt that this kind of change enhances fair market value. Real estate professionals have tables that will tell property owners how much of an economic return one can expect for certain improvements. Decks might yield dollar for dollar, but a swimming pool might only yield 50%.

As to NYC, they some how manage to march to their own tune. As I recall, it was the NYC delegation to Albany that got condos and co-ops to be assessed at only 50% of FMV many years ago and this was applied I believe throughout the rest of the State.

The RAR like many measures has it waeknesses. It is useful for a general trend and a ballpark indicator, but has many shortcomings.

To be continued .....

Anonymous said...

Cooperatives are corporations - the residents own stock, they do not physically own property. We are taxed like corporations, homeowners do not pay corporation taxes. The shareholders do not appear on assessment rolls - only the corp. appears. I live in a coop on EHA - we do not have a single child in the Greenburgh school system. Most of our residents sell and move when their children become school age...fix the schools - then you can talk about taxing us to death!

Anonymous said...

How can you have a discussion when you can't get the date right? That's why listing the correct date is so important!

hal samis said...

Sorry Mike, but I don't buy your argument using a floor as an example. What about a top of the line walk-in refridgerator replacing an upright, what about an antique chandelier replacing track lighting, what about built-in bookshelves replacing book cases, what about an electric garage door replacing a manual door...

The issue for me is to simply the administration of taxation fairly.
What is current practice might just have to be chucked and/

Generally, per Samis, improvements which increase a building's square footage (including in-ground pools) or footprint are reasonable reasons to pay higher taxes than before alterations. However, if the addition of an interior bathroom is the indicator of more occupants (such as might attend a school system) then this is a less valid measure than actual school registration cross-checked against address. Assuming that water usage is metered. But to decide that having a bathroom is more valuable in assessment criteria than a closet or a darkroom or a study is an example, of an intrusive form of government using its resources and inserting its idea of what is valuable, that I find troubling.

It is concerns like this that leads me to using the actual sale as the best leading indicator to the property's assessed valuation. It might even be the basis to recognizing that a vacant piece of land is more valuable than a piece of land with an "improvement" (with or without bathrooms).

Bill R said...

I understand Mike's view about assessing, for my money your suggestion makes more sense for residents.

I am not sure if over time, your suggestion becomes of California size when the rotation of property slows down and the assessments, as Mike's points out, take place.

The reality is, this year's major hit comes from Albany's gambling on pensions. The towns are getting hammered with 50% additional contribution into the guaranteed pension system, that is going to hit hard specially the villages.

In reference to the comment about Hartsdale.
The major tax saving for Hartsdale will be to organize (maybe with Edgemont)and drop the Town, charter its school district and let the rest of services open for bid.

Now, as a village resident, matters of Hartsdale should be better left for Harstdalians!!!!

Good conversation......

Anonymous said...

How much corporate tax does the average coop/condo pay? I suspect very little given their improper and unfair status as compared to residential taxes.
Does Feiner support the change of coop/condo status to place them in the same class as homes? Give us an answer.

Anonymous said...

Feiner is on record OPPOSING any change in the status of coops/condos to place them in the same class as homes for property tax purposes. He's even OPPOSED to any such change for luxury coops/condos.

Write in Campaign said...

When you go into the voting booth the area for write ins is at the top of the panel. Just slide the window open and write in your choice. The windows have numbers that correspond to the position you are voting for. The Supervisor is 10 and the Town Council is 11 and 12.

Lets send a message!!!!!!