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Oct 9, 2012 4:04 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Most In Westhampton Beach School District Will See 6 Percent Increase In School Taxes

Oct 10, 2012 1:38 PM

An estimated 80 percent of property owners within the Westhampton Beach School District will see their school taxes increase about 6 percent next year, or more than double the 3 percent originally estimated by district officials prior to the adoption of the $51.8 million budget for the 2012-13 school year last May, due to an overall drop in land values.

According to Southampton Town Tax Assessor Lisa Goree, the taxable value of land in the Westhampton Beach School District has decreased by more than $134 million, or just under 3 percent, over the past year, from $4,542,135,078 to $4,407,932,929. Because of this decrease, the school’s district’s tax rate, which was $5.53 per 1,000 last year, had to increase by 33 cents, to $5.86, to cover the district’s $26.3 million tax levy.

In May, district officials, using preliminary estimates provided by the town in April, had estimated that the tax rate would climb by only 16 cents, or about 3 percent. Ms. Goree said that, at the time, districts were warned that the assessments would most likely drop, causing tax rates to increase.

“As of that date in April, we are still doing analysis for the school districts and that is subject to change either up or down,” Ms. Goree said this week. “We emphasized that, most likely, they would be seeing decreases from the original number.”

She also estimated that the average assessed value of a home in the district is about $950,000. Therefore, taxpayers whose homes are assessed at that value, and who did not see an increase or decrease in their assessments, can expect to pay approximately $5,567 in school taxes this year, or $314 more than last year.

According to Ms. Goree, 3,780 of the 5,260 taxable properties in the district—or 71.9 percent of all taxable properties—will see no change in their assessments, meaning they will have to absorb the full 6-percent increase. At the same time, 431 property owners, or 8.2 percent of the total, will see their assessments increase this year, meaning they will actually see more than a 6 percent increase in their school taxes. A total of 1,059 properties, or 20.1 percent, will see their assessment decrease and, therefore, they will see their taxes increase less than 6 percent. There are 6,921 properties within the district, but 1,661 of them are tax-exempt, according to Ms. Goree.

She also said it is not unusual to see a drop in a district’s taxable value, explaining that whether that figure changes depends on the real estate market.

“I wouldn’t consider it to be a drastic change,” Ms. Goree said when asked about Westhampton Beach. “We have to look at what is going on in the market. If these were due to market changes, which most of them probably were, it represents what the market was doing in 2011.”

On Tuesday, Westhampton Beach Schools Superintendent Michael Radday said there was no way for officials in his district to predict such a drastic change in assessments. He added that even though the tax rate is 17 cents higher than projected in May, both the $26.3 million tax levy—which is the total amount of revenue collected by property taxes—and $51.8 million budget that were approved by taxpayers last spring will remain the same.

“I think the key point is that the overall tax levy is the same dollar figure that we presented throughout the budget development process last year and that the taxpayers voted on,” Mr. Radday said. “It would have been impossible to predict such a decrease in overall assessed valuation.”

Kathleen O’Hara, the assistant superintendent for business at Westhampton Beach, said district officials will start the preparation process for the 2013-14 budget earlier this year than last year with the goal of addressing the needs of taxpayers.

“We are hoping that the economy starts picking up so that it won’t be as significant,” she said. “But we don’t have the ability to predict assessed value.”

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Spend, spend, spend. Yup. We will keep dishing out the tax dollars. I am personally going into my basement to crank up the printing machine now.
By realistic (415), westhampton on Oct 9, 12 9:55 PM
Oh yea. And to think they didn't know the housing values were going down. Give me a break. What planet are they living on?
By realistic (415), westhampton on Oct 9, 12 9:59 PM
If your assessment went down, then your taxes went down, but because on the whole assessments went down then the taxes you thought would go down, won't.

This story is just stirring the pot. Yes, schools have to be careful with the expenditure of tax dollars, but tax assessments have nothing to do with school governance.
By Publius (358), Westhampton Beach on Oct 10, 12 3:35 PM
Publilus it's basic math- you spend more then you take in and something has to give. You either take in More taxes to support your expenditures or you cut expenditures. They need to forecast the expected tax revenue. I can't believe anyone on the School Board never thought the assessments would go down. Why would they- it's only called the great recession. Hmmmm. Housing values going down- never! There comes a time when all must give back. Our students ours teachers and the school board with ...more
By realistic (415), westhampton on Oct 10, 12 8:10 PM
1 member liked this comment
This story is not really about school board spending or about the school board anticipating what assessments will be.

Property Assessments simply decide how responsibility for a tax levy will be distributed in a community.

If you find that your tax bill is going up more than your neighbor, then you can take some small solace that the value of your property (at least in the eye of the assessor) did not decline as much as others in the community.

I could join you in ...more
By Publius (358), Westhampton Beach on Oct 11, 12 12:50 PM
i'm having a hard time keeping my head above water. I have to make cuts at home and spend less while the cost of living skyrockets. no salary increases for me to keep up with the taxation. i have nothing left to give. (gurgle, gurgle, gurgle)
By Jaws (237), Westhampton Beach on Oct 11, 12 8:01 PM
I haven't had a raise in four years and I don't get automatic step raises and why do all superintendants on LI make more than the Govenor ? because without their "great " leadership our schools wouldn't be effecient. What a joke give me more more more so I can do less less less.
By sandie (15), speonk on Oct 15, 12 12:13 PM
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