Halcottsville residents frustrated by tax issue

Staff Report
When Halcottsville residents met at the Grange Hall on Sunday to discuss concerns about their rising school taxes, they were joined by state Assemblyman Pete Lopez of Schoharie and John

Wolham, regional director of the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance.
Both state officials offered the group their assistance and in return they heard an earful of complaints. Tempers flared as frustrated residents complained about a system they feel has failed them.

“Compared to the people of Roxbury, we’re definitely being treated unfairly and that has to be changed,” said Fred Travis.
Others agreed.
“You know we’re being unfairly taxed,” said Sharon Suess of Halcottsville.

Want Roxbury’s rate
“How do I get to pay the rate that the Roxbury people pay?” said Ellen Fauerbach of Denver. “So what you’re saying is that our taxes should have stayed the same with the equalization rate, but it’s not working, because then our taxes shouldn’t have doubled,” said Marty Lieberman.

About 30 people attended the session. Most were Middletown property owners who pay Roxbury Central School District taxes. More than 500 parcels in Halcottsville and Denver fall into the category. Some feel they’ve been asked to pay more than their fair share of school taxes, especially when compared with Town of Roxbury residents who’ve owned their properties for decades.

They believe the problem is a disparity in equalization rates. Middletown reassessed its parcels at 100 percent of true value last year, while Roxbury’s property is assessed at 30 percent of true value.
Wolham explained some contributing factors for their rising school taxes, including the fact that Halcottsville’s share of school taxes has been increasing since 2005, when it was 11.88 percent. In 2011, it was 15.60 percent. Then, there’s also the issue of property values.

“The value of Roxbury property dropped much more then Middletown went up,” said Lopez. “It’s a massive drop.”

Wolham said that Roxbury’s reval could provide Halcottsville property owners with some tax relief. There hasn’t been one in 36 years.

At a special session last month, the Roxbury Town Board gave the green light for a reassessment of the 3,300 parcels in the township. The project will cost about $60,000 and be completed in 2015.
Those who attended the meeting recalled that Roxbury Assessor Bob Breglio told the board that the process would be, “slow and easy.”

At Sunday’s meeting, several Halcottsville residents complained that the pace of Roxbury’s reval is much too slow for them. They have begun an effort to see how they can convince Roxbury to fast track the process, including possible legal action.

Lopez, a Republican who currently represents the 127th Assembly District, has offered to continue to meet with the residents. He is seeking his fourth two-year term. Due to redistricting, he is running for the seat in the newly formed 102nd Assembly District. It includes Middletown and Roxbury, which were previously represented by Cliff Crouch.
“I’ll come back is what I’m saying,” he said to the audience.