NYS Audits of Local Governments

We are encouraged by recent audits by the NYS Comptroller's Office related to Real Property Taxes that show there may be some oversight of assessor decisions and actions. The Office of the State Comptroller audits State and local governments to ensure that they use taxpayer money effectively and efficiently to promote the common good. 

2019

Town of North Salem - Agricultural Exemptions (2018M-194)

Determine whether the Town Assessor (Assessor) is properly administering agricultural real property tax exemptions.

  • Granted four woodland exemptions for rented agricultural parcels with $40,028 in assessed value that did not meet the woodland eligibility requirement.
  • Granted three agricultural exemptions with assessed values of $543,390. Two of these exemptions lacked proper documentation and the remaining one was granted even though the 10-year exemption term had expired in 2013.
  • Did not grant an exemption credit totaling $2,168 in assessed value on one property because the exemption amount was incorrectly calculated.

Town of Milan - Town Clerk/Tax Collector (2018M-257)

Determine whether the Town Clerk/Tax Collector maintained adequate records and properly deposited and remitted money in a timely manner.

Key Findings

  • Real property taxes totaling $3.1 million in 2017 and $3.0 million in 2018 were not always remitted to the Town Supervisor (Supervisor) and County Treasurer (Treasurer) in a timely manner.
  • The Town Clerk (Clerk) improperly assessed $1,650 in Town facility use fees to applicants during the audit period.
  • Twenty-nine property tax payments totaling $56,308 were deposited from one to 19 days late.

Town of Holland - Real Property Tax Exemptions (2018M-232)

We reviewed 60 agricultural, veteran, disability and senior citizen exemptions totaling $2.5 million, on properties with a total assessed value of $16.4 million.

  • Twenty-seven exemptions totaling $1.5 million were not properly supported by adequate documentation.
  • The Assessor allowed what appear to be ineligible agricultural woodland exemptions totaling $91,000 on 269 acres.

Town of Elba - Real Property Tax Exemptions (2018M-261)

We reviewed 91 agricultural, veteran and senior citizen exemptions totaling $6 million, on properties with a total assessed value of $15.5 million. The Assessor:

  • Granted or subsequently maintained 81 exemptions totaling $5.7 million that were not supported by adequate documentation.
  • Did not periodically monitor exemptions or obtain annual renewal documentation as required, to ensure the exemptions remained in compliance with State or local laws.

Town of Eden - Real Property Tax Exemptions (2018M-231)

We reviewed 58 out of 765 agricultural, veteran and senior citizen exemptions, totaling $2.9 million, on properties with a total assessed value of $7.7 million. The Assessors:Granted or subsequently maintained 20 exemptions totaling over $1.4 million that were not properly supported by adequate documentation.Did not periodically monitor exemptions or obtain annual renewal documentation as required, to ensure the exemptions were in compliance with State or local laws.

Town of Parma - Real Property Tax Exemptions Administration (2018M-223)

We reviewed properties with 147 agricultural, non-profit and not-for-profit, senior citizen, veteran and other exemptions.

The Assessor:

  • Granted 28 exemptions (19 percent of those reviewed) without applications, renewal forms or other supporting documentation.
  • Incorrectly calculated granted exemptions.
  • Did not report the transfer of 10 (of 37) properties with exemptions to the County as required when the new owner was no longer eligible for the exemptions.

Town of Lenox - reviewed 101 properties with agricultural, senior citizen, and veteran exemptions and found 62 (61 percent) lacked supporting documentation (e.g., applications, renewal forms, income support and military records) to verify taxpayer eligibility.

Town of Moravia - Real Property Tax Exemptions Administration (2018M-215) - reviewed properties with 85 agricultural, nonprofit, senior citizen, veteran and other exemptions. The Assessor did not:

  • Ensure that 68 of 85 (80 percent) granted exemptions we reviewed, contained the required applications, renewal forms or supporting documentation to verify eligibility for the exemption or accuracy of exemption calculations.
  • Correctly calculate granted exemptions.
  • Report the transfer of four properties with agricultural exemptions to the County and did not require new owners of these properties to submit a new application as required.

Town of Lyons - Real Property Tax Exemptions Administration (2018M-216) - reviewed properties with 108 agricultural, non-profit and not-for-profit, senior citizen, veteran and other exemptions.

The Assessor:

Granted exemptions without applications, renewal forms or supporting documentation.Granted an ineligible exemption and did not correctly calculate granted exemptions. Did not report the transfer of property with exemptions to the County as required.

The Board:

Did not establish, by local law or resolution, one granted exemption.

Town of Bath - Real Property Tax Exemptions Administration (2018M-209) - reviewed properties with 125 agricultural, non-profit and not-for-profit, senior citizen, volunteer firefighter, veteran and other exemptions. The Assessor:

  • Granted exemptions without required applications, renewal forms or other supporting documentation.
  • Incorrectly calculated granted exemptions.
  • Did not report the transfer of all property with exemptions to the County as required.

Town of Lysander - Real Property Tax Exemption Administration (2018M-221) - reviewed 116 properties with agricultural, senior citizen and veteran exemptions and found 14 (12 percent) lacked adequate supporting documentation (e.g., applications, renewal forms, income support and military records) to verify taxpayer eligibility.

Town of Augusta - Real Property Tax Exemption Administration (2018M-230)

  • We reviewed 76 agricultural, senior citizen and veteran properties with exemptions and found 49 (64 percent) lacked supporting documentation (e.g., applications, renewal forms, income support and military records) to verify taxpayer eligibility.

Town of Milo - Real Property Tax Exemption Administration (2018M-210)

We reviewed properties with 100 agricultural, non-profit and not-for-profit, senior citizen, veteran and other exemptions. The Assessor:

  • Granted exemptions without applications, renewal forms or other supporting documentation.
  • Incorrectly calculated granted exemptions.
  • Did not report the transfer of property with exemptions to the County as required.
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The Audit Process