Press-Republican

March 10, 2013

Bombay plans historic revaluation

By DENISE A. RAYMO
Press-Republican

---- — BOMBAY — The Town of Bombay will tackle property revaluation for the first time in its history, including parcels in the St. Regis Mohawk tribal land-claims area.

The impact when all 898 parcels are valued by Assessor David Rotman will show up on September 2014 school-tax bills and town-tax bills in January 2015.

A presentation on the process will be made to the Town Council by the assessor and a representative of the State Office of Real Property Services at its next meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 12.

Property tax is calculated using a town’s taxable assessed-property value set by the assessor and the town’s total market value, which is determined by the state, using a complicated formula.

If a town’s taxable assessed value is raised to 100 percent during a revaluation, the tax rate per $1,000 of assessed-property value will decrease as long as the town’s overall levy stays roughly the same.

In Franklin County, seven towns have 100 percent valuation, four are in the 90 percent range, six are in the 60, 70 and 80 percent range, and Constable is at 11.07 percent.

Bombay is at 3.12 percent.

COMPLEX PROPERTIES

In 2013, Bombay residents were assessed $132.28 per $1,000 in property tax compared to $37.27 per $1,000 in Constable and a range of $4.09 to $6.58 per $1,000 in the other towns.

“These numbers are in the 1950s and 1960s era, and that is causing inequity to the roll,” Rotman said.

Basic information about each parcel must be gathered and cataloged, giving him a place to start.

“It’s a big project, and it’s never been done,” he said. “They had never entered data in the computer.”

In the past two years, Rotman and data collectors have been gathering the needed information, which he said is about 85 percent complete.

The reval begins when he goes back to visit each property to verify the data and make revisions.

Rotman will conduct the residential appraisals but will ask the Town Council to hire another appraiser to help value the town’s commercial properties, such as the parking lot at the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino, the Holiday Inn next door and Speedway Express.

“There are some complex properties in Bombay, and you don’t want to guess at a value,” he said. “There’s a whole process to this, and if the assessment is contested, I want the correct data to back it up.

“Commercial land sells for a lot more than other land, and I want to make sure our values are within certain parameters,” the assessor said. “I don’t want to be too low or too high. Equity is essential in a reval.”

MOHAWK LAND CLAIM

And so is impartiality, especially in the sensitive area of ownership of certain lands.

The Mohawks filed suit in 1985, staking claim to 13,463 acres of land, and the largest chunk is in what is known as the Bombay Triangle near the casino.

The land claim is based on a treaty signed in 1796, involving parcels in northwest Franklin County and northeast St. Lawrence County that the tribe says were purchased over time by the state without proper federal approval.

“I’m the assessor. I don’t care about the land claim,” Rotman said. “All I care about is, if it’s a property in the Town of Bombay, it needs to be assessed.

“My question is, is the Town Council going to back me up? They are politicians, and I’m appointed.

“That’s a major concern of mine — if I will get the support I need when push comes to shove.

“I don’t care if it’s the town supervisor, his or her property will be given a value,” Rotman added. “I can’t care about who you are.”

‘NOT FAIR TO ALL’

Letters will go out to property owners in March 2014 announcing the new valuations and offering owners a chance to discuss the revisions with Rotman at an informal hearing.

If owners are not satisfied, they can go to the town’s Grievance Day the last week of May for a formal hearing and on to small-claims court if they are still not happy.

Another letter will go out in July 2014, affirming the final assessment-roll reval data, and the September 2014 school-tax bills will reflect the new taxes.

Rotman said it’s important to bring Bombay’s valuation to 100 percent.  

“This has never happened before so for some people, it will be quite a shock,” he said.

“But it’s not fair to everybody in the county or the taxpayers of Bombay without equalization,” the assessor said. “Maybe the people of Bombay are paying too much.”

Email Denise A. Raymo: draymo@pressrepublican.com