Village opts for town’s help on taxes

CHATHAM–Village taxpayers will have a simpler village and town tax system come 2014 after village trustees approved a local law May 23 ending village assessment of properties. In the future the village will use town assessments for its property tax billing purposes.

Mayor Tom Curran said the change means that the Village is “peeling back some of the layers that are duplicated.”

A small part of the Village of Chatham lies within the Town of Ghent, while the rest of the village is within the Town of Chatham. Village residents who live in Ghent will pay their village taxes based on their Town of Ghent property assessment, while Chatham residents will be billed based on their Chatham town assessment.

Mr. Curran estimates that the savings from not having to pay an assessor will amount to about $5,000.

Village Attorney Alex Betke noted that it is uncommon for villages to have an independent assessment process, and most ended the practice following a change in assessment law decades ago.

Assessments can vary significantly between town and village tax rolls, but the mayor said most residents shouldn’t notice a drastic change in their tax bills after state equalization rates are applied. The equalization rates attempt to level assessment rates across multiple municipalities.

“I think just having one number… seems the way to do it,” said Trustee Lenore Packett.

The Towns of Ghent and Chatham are on board with the new system, Mr. Curran said, and there will be no charge to the village or its residents for the assessments.

The vote followed a public hearing, in which residents who spoke offered their support for having a single assessment of their homes, instead of the two they currently receive.

Mayor Curran added that consolidation of these types of services is recommended by the Office of the State Comptroller.

“New York State is really putting the heat on little villages to dissolve,” said Mr. Curran. He added that the pressure isn’t needed “at this point.”



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