ROTTERDAM: No to new tax law

In a 3 to 1 vote, the Rotterdam Town Board decided against a resolution, known as the Transitional Assessment Law, which would phase in new property assessments over a five-year period.

At a special meeting Saturday, March 31, board members Robert Godlewski, Diane Marco and Joseph Signore voted against adopting the resolution; council member John Mertz voted for it; and Supervisor Steven Tommasone abstained, saying there was not enough information for him to make an informed decision.

The issue of phasing in property taxes was brought up at a special board meeting Friday, March 23, and had been the topic of discussions for more than a week.

The Transitional Assessment Law is linked to the Homestead/Non-Homestead Tax Option, which the town adopted in February. Under the law, which has never been adopted by a municipality in the state, the town would take four additional years from the date the roll is final to gradually increase property assessments. But, in a letter to Tommasone from David Williams, director of regional operations at the state Office of Real Property Services, Williams said 90 percent of the shifting taxes would occur in the first year, which was unexpected.

It was for this reason that Signore said he voted against adopting the local law.

The way I see it, if your taxes are going up by $3,000 you are still going to pay $2,700 the first year, so I can't see why the people who have been overpaying should continue to overpay. The issue becomes moot, Signore said.

It was originally thought by some members of the town board that adopting the Transitional Assessment Law would give residents time to prepare for the increase in taxes.

"Rotterdam is in a mess that took 50 years to create," Mertz said. "Fixing it overnight is impractical and would put an undue burden on our taxpayers. They need time to fix their lifestyles or sell their homes."

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