Southampton Village trustees, please take notice. We, who have supported and elected you, do not expect miracles. We also do not expect that you would ignore our opinions and wishes and act as if you were executing the office through divine right.
Your job is neither easy nor free of complications, but by exercising a modicum of common sense and diligence, you will fulfill your public service obligations without blame and remorse.
The matter which inspires this writing is the complaints brought by our fellow citizen, taxpayer and voter David Rung, and others, who, upon doing a study and comparison of real estate tax rates in our village, have pointed out that real and provable disparities exist in our assessment rolls.
State code insists that real estate be taxed on values determined to be “market value.” This leaves no room for arbitrary or capricious decisions on values, but delineates, specifically and certainly, that every property be taxed based on its market value.
By now, suspicions in your minds must surely have been aroused by the comparisons brought to you previously by citizen Rung, who has shown that many, if not all, properties in less desirable (or less expensive, if you will) areas are paying a highly disproportionate dollar amount per thousand dollars of true market value.
This condition cannot possibly be allowed to continue. The last time the assessed rolls in Southampton Village were redone, or reassessed, was nearly 40 years ago. One need no vast imagination to recognize that many of the neighborhoods in this village have become more (some less, I would imagine) valuable, and that the worth relationships established back then cannot possibly prevail today.
What to do? Barring any solid way of merely glancing at the assessed rolls to determine if they appear distorted, one could contract with an outside provider to do a statistical analysis of the fairness of the present valuations. At that point, solid evidence would exist, which would keep the board at a metaphorical “arm’s length,” and provide a solid and incontrovertible basis for either remaining with the present roll or using the findings as a basis to carry out a total new assessment.
Thus, without exposing any personal opinions you might have on the present values, you would have protected yourselves from blame by those possibly negatively affected by a new assessment and, moreover, you would have done this in a dispassionate and professional way.
The mere announcement that you recognize the need to have absolute fairness in taxation and that steps are being immediately taken to ensure this is accomplished should be enough to still complaints and appeals until such time as the present situation is correctly and adequately resolved.
McFarlane is a former Southampton Village trustee — Ed.
One fine body…