When the coronavirus pandemic suddenly hit us all in early 2020, one of the things that got lost in the reshuffle was Part 2 of a column from the President’s Corner on the Service Agency of Columbia County property taxes. With an update or two, this is it:
Last time around I used the technical language of New York State to introduce equalization rates as they apply to tax bills. This time around, let’s take a look at that – along with other functions of the Columbia County Property Tax Service Agency – in layman’s terms.
In Columbia County, a city’s equalization rate comes into play when calculating school tax bills. Why? Because the county’s six school districts straddle city boundaries, causing potential inequalities at tax time.
Let’s say city A has an equalization rate of 85 percent, while city B has 100 percent. Both Taxpayer A and Taxpayer B own homes that their individual appraisers have valued at $ 100,000. love of comparison.
The school district, with the two homes within its tax border, sends out its tax bills, with tax rates calculated to “make up the difference” between 85 and 100 percent.
I hope this explanation did not elicit too much crossed eyes, but I wanted to talk about it in order to help convey the importance of equalization rates in helping to establish a fair tax system.
It was in the early 1990s when the county hired a private company to do a county-wide reassessment of all private property. This had the effect of taking all the cities out of the process with a 100 percent equalization rate.
“From that point on,” says Suzette Booy, director of the Columbia County Real Estate Tax Services Agency, “many cities tried to keep the rate at 100% on their own. It was successful for a number of years, but it turned out to be difficult to keep up. “
A 2008 government-funded assessment service consolidation study found that assessment service consolidation “was definitely coming,” and ways to help local assessors were explored. , said Booy.
In recent years, County Real Estate has helped data collection efforts in several cities during reassessments. Currently, data collection support is taking place in Chatham and Ghent, while it is in place for 2022 in Ancram and Stockport.
Booy noted that assessors from all municipalities continue to serve as the re-assessment project leader, while data collection services have provided municipalities with significant savings. “Rather than hiring a contractor for a lot of money,” she said, the cost per plot is “about $ 16 per residential plot and $ 18 for a commercial plot.”
From the county side, she said, “Our goal is to cover our expenses – we are not looking to make money from the municipalities on this. The goal is to help establish fair and equitable assessment rolls.
From a taxpayer perspective, Booy wanted to dispel the idea “that cities are revival to get more money.” This is not the case. And every owner has the opportunity to file a grievance every year, usually in May. “