Well, to be literal, that is not what they said … they said Jay was not truthful when he claimed, correctly, that he has reduced the real estate tax rate every year, but that because the assessed valuation of homes in the town have risen, so has your tax bill.
In plain English, you multiply your home’s assessed value by the tax rate to arrive at the tax bill for your home. Unless you made a major improvement to your home, your tax bill has not risen that much over the last few years.
The town supervisor does not control the marketplace and the value that someone is willing to pay for a home or a parcel of land. Rising real estate prices is a function of many things, including the fact that people want to live here. The Town of Southampton is a beautiful and safe place to live, and it is a magnet for wealthy people … especially in the summer. They have bid up the prices for homes and land out here for many, many years, and it has created great wealth for homeowners.
While it has created affordability issues for young people, senior citizens have options. They can sell their homes at a sizable profit and retire to a warmer climate, or they can get a reverse mortgage and stay here, without leaving their homes. In reality, most seniors don’t need to do either because of real estate taxes.
In our country, we do not have a socialistic form of government that controls the price of real estate. This fact seems to have been lost on the candidates. It’s unclear whether or not they understand how real estate pricing works or how they would change the fact that prices, and therefore assessed valuations, have risen.
Further, Alex Gregor was misleading at best, as a review of the public tax records shows that his East Quogue real estate tax bill (which he cited at the debate) has risen modestly since 2015 — and most of the increase was in East Quogue school taxes, not town taxes.
Perhaps, Mr. Robins and Mr. Gregor are just grasping at straws and looking for ways to confuse the voters to get elected. Or maybe they really don’t understand how the marketplace works.
Regardless, the fact is that the Town of Southampton is a beautiful, safe and sought-after place to live, and most of us can continue to live here for as long as we want to.
Dick SheehanWesthampton Beach
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