Saturday, April 2, 2016

Work Session Explodes, Town Places Onus On Residents, Not Vendor

After opening the work session, Mr Feiner and his Board immediately distanced themselves from the lack of a revaluation for the past 60 years. What Mr Feiner failed to mention was that no reassessment was done under his assorted administrations for the past 24 years, roughly one third of this time period which falls squarely on Mr Feiner’s shoulders. Now scrambling, he’s desperately playing fast and furious as complaints increase.

One “rub” against him is that the reassessment has hit the Edgemont community particularly hard. As ABG readers well know, Edgemont is Mr Feiner’s Achilles Heel. He knows if he alienates them without trying to address the significant increases many of these homeowners will be saddled with, he risks their resumption of Incorporation and secession from the Town. He and his Board know and fear that that would devastate the Town budget. Add to that roughly half of the properties in Unincorporated Greenburgh are taxable. Edgemont’s secession would wind up crippling the Town budget and his ability to spend.

One hour into the discussion during the work session about revaluation and reassessment of the Town, Tax Assessor Edye McCarthy spoke over one resident at the podium, shutting her down while trying to express her concern over what appears to be an incorrect reassessment of her property. Fortunately, the resident had the resolve to stay and speak a second time. The more important issue was that Ms McCarthy also placed the onus of responsibility onto the taxpayer, absolving her office, Tyler Technologies and the Town’s administration of any mistakes, gaffs or problems with the apparently sketchy data that Tyler has provided. Throughout the meeting, Ms McCarthy attempted to answer different questions raised by residents. But she still did not provide real numbers or solutions when pushed for them. Why not?

Numerous questions were raised to the question of criteria that was used by Tyler for the reassessment? Most, were asked and left unanswered by everyone at the table. Ms McCarthy did say there were two tax rates in the Town, one for Unincorporated Greenburgh and the other for Incorporated Greenburgh (the Villages). The Town Board members sat in silence for most of the meeting content to watch their fearless leader take the attacks.

Another common tactic employed by Mr Feiner was that of deflection. He repeatedly stated he has reached out to our NY State representatives for assistance with this transition of implementation of the tax changes, specifically to those who will see an increase. When Mr Feiner told the residents that he reached out to state representatives, ABG staffers laughed and pointed to the 55” screen on the wall and said, “There it is! There’s the deflection. He went longer than usual.” Mr Feiner will characteristically push off his responsibilities to others, usually elected officials, when he has either created an issue he cannot rectify or an issue he jumped into for publicity. Once that happens, the issue is off his radar and inaction is the guaranteed result!

Ms McCarthy repeatedly and dismissively talked down to residents and told them to let her finish speaking while she interrupted many. At one point she said, “She’s always available.” The speaker at the podium replied, “You’re always in meetings.” Ms McCarthy replied “I’ll get back to you.” Obviously, then, she’s not always available.

The work session meeting offered little or no resolution to the reassessment increases that resident after resident bemoaned. As the Town Board remained mute, Mr Feiner and Ms McCarthy danced around the questions and did not provide much in the way of answers. Sadly, it’s what we’ve come to expect from this administration. The common, possibly well-rehearsed responses were that residents can access their property information card from Tyler Technologies. They were then asked by residents why they couldn’t be had from the Tax Assessor’s office? There were two answers. One was, “We don’t have them,” and the other was, “They aren’t available.” Huh? Tyler created them for the reassessment so something must be available. 

The criteria used by Tyler was constantly in question as the results for homes were extremely inaccurate and comparables seemed nowhere close in comparison. Some information concerning the criteria used, which the Town officials never made the residents aware of, has now been discovered on the Tyler website. Here is a link to that information: 

The one glaring question never raised, except by ABG, is what did the Tyler inspectors find in terms of illegal subdivisions throughout the Town during their physical inspections? What were the inspectors instructed to do with that information when they returned it to the Town? Obviously, in a sanctuary Town authorized by Mr Feiner, little if anything will be done. Sadly, this is a perfect opportunity to rectify some of the illegal subdivisions and make the homes safer, put residents and first responders at less risk and make for A Better Greenburgh.

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