To the Editor:
Below is a copy of a letter I have sent to Mamaroneck Town Supervisor Valerie O’Keefe and the Town Council:
I agree with the concept of reassessment, but only if it is done accurately and fairly. Clearly that is not what is about to happen.
Yesterday I received a mailing asking me to fill out a strange and incomplete questionnaire about my home, to be used as part of the assessment process. There is no apparent advantage to me from doing so; there is no apparent disadvantage to me from not doing so or for filling it out incorrectly. How is that fair? How does it provide anything that you, or the reassassment people, know to be accurate?
There are to be six “workshops” about the reassessment, but what a “workshop” is is unexplained. Remarkably, the workshops are taking place not before the reassessment methods were put in place, to get community input, and to educate the company doing the reassessment, but, rather, after, so that there will continue to be little community input (beyond anyone who showed up at a past Town Council meeting–the agenda stated that reassessment was to be discussed, but there was no Town-wide mailing, such as the one this week, asking Town residents for input, and I believe that the vast majority of Town residents do not receive the agenda).
There is no indication that the firm hired to do the reassessment, at substantial expense to the Town, knows anything about the Town, about its different neighborhoods, about the fact that the same house on an equivalent lot in one part of the Town is worth more, or less, than if it were in another part of the Town, that some areas flood, whereas others do not, that some suffer greatly from noise, whereas others do not, etc., etc., etc. These, and other items, are basic to any fair and accurate reassessment.
Most disturbing to me is the fact that each homeowner is given the choice of letting the assessment people into his/her house, or of not doing so. Thus those who have done improvements without permits, to avoid reassessment, will still be able to prevent the discovery of those improvements and the resulting effect on their assessments, whereas those of us who got permits will continue to suffer from having done so and from having had our assessments increased as a result. How is that fair?
The letter the Town just sent out makes it clear that, if one does not let the assessment people into the house they will guess at what is inside and assess the property based upon that guess. That’s accurate? That’s fair?
Lastly, for the moment, there is no announced procedure as to how a homeowner may contest a reassessment that he or she believes in incorrect without having to hire an attorney, or a certiorari mill,to do so.
Until you show the residents of the Town that every property will be reassessed in exactly the same manner as every other property will be reassessed, meaning fairly and accurately, the reassessment should not proceed.
I would urge Town residents not to respond to the questionnaire they were just sent until that is done.
Ralph M. Engel