“The property-tax mess that has engulfed Rockland County’s biggest village this summer just got messier.
It’s a mess that involves inaccurate tax bills sent to every Spring Valley property owner, a consolidation of assessor services encouraged by the Cuomo administration that went horribly wrong, and unprecedented tax breaks available to just one part of the village.
It’s a tale of two villages.
Those living in Spring Valley’s Clarkstown section will absorb the full tax impact of increases caused by the consolidation effort, with some seeing their village taxes double or even triple to as much as $4,600.
Property-owners in the village’s Ramapo section, however, have been invited to file claims against Spring Valley, with the promise that the village board would refund up to 95 percent of their 2017 increase.
Making it all so questionable is the fact that these tax refunds would go to many homeowners who received inaccurately lower tax bills than they should have been, a Tax Watch investigation has found.
It also will result in more than a $3 million shortfall, according to a Tax Watch analysis.
“I’ve never ever heard of a municipality letting people file a claim like this on their tax bills,” said Teri Ross, president of the New York State Assessor’s Association. “Why refund money to people who were under-billed? It’s scary to think about.”
Here’s the reason: to make nice in an election year when village property taxes skyrocketed for many after the village board eliminated its assessor.
“The board moved to alleviate the pain suffered by people in the village,” said Trustee Vilair Fonvil.
But community activist Steve White has railed against the refund giveaway, calling it unfair to the village’s Clarkstown section, which won’t get any cash back to ease its property-tax pain.
“This is a gift,” White said. “And you are making your fellow taxpayers pick up the tab.”
Where Spring Valley will find the cash to pay the refunds remains to be seen.”
Read the complete Journal News coverage here.