Excessive Assessment Grievance - Case Study #3
This Case Study of a grievance argued for a property owner pertaining to Excessive Assessment was written by Warren Leisenring, Jr., a consultant for the Tax My Property Fairly website and an 11-year member of a Board of Assessment Review (BAR) in Upstate NY. We thank him for sharing this with our readers, for the purpose of giving property owners some insight as to what to expect and how to prepare their grievances.
A year ago this month, a property owner in Upstate NY received a notice from the assessor that her assessment increased from a full market value of $175,926 to $333,093.
This Case Study outlines the long process taken – starting with the homeowner's initial meeting with the assessor – and going all the way to a Small Claims Assessment Review with the Supreme Court for the State of New York. To fight for what she knew was right, the homeowner hired a consultant, Warren Leisenring, Jr. The process took a year. It reveals how the lack of adequate training provided for Assessors, Boards of Assessment Review, and SCAR Hearing Officers directly affects property owners. In this case, it cost the owner thousands of dollars in additional taxes that could not be recovered.
Please also see:
Case Study #3
Pull up a comfortable chair and your favorite drink before you read this Case Study. To most, it will be unbelievable.
This Case Study will reveal how the lack of complete training for Assessors, Boards of Assessment Review, and SCAR Hearing Officers directly affects property owners. In this case, it cost the owner thousands of dollars in additional taxes that could not be recovered.
It is amazing how such a simple grievance could get this screwed up, but it did. I am not holding any individual responsible for anything other than not being properly trained for the positions they were either appointed or hired to do.
It took extensive knowledge from both the New York State Real Property Tax Services' point of view and the property owner's point of view to argue this grievance. For many property owners, I am sure they would have given up with what they would have faced. For me, I fight for what I feel is right and will go to whatever extent it may take to prove what is right.
This grievance came from central upstate New York. As with the other two Case Studies on Excessive Assessment, all personal information has been excluded for privacy reasons.
In March 2022, the property owner received a notice from the assessor that their assessment had increased from a full market value of $175,926.00 to $333,093.00. These notifications are also known as "impact statements."
The notification dealt mainly with the assessed value rather than the full market value. The "assessed value" of a property is the amount of value upon which a property owner is taxed. In this particular grievance, the Equalization Rate was at 48.5%, so the assessed value greatly differed from the full market value. The assessed value went from $95,000 in 2021 to $161,550 in 2022.
The property owner did some research before meeting with the local assessor and obtained ten comparable properties similar to the "subject property." The "subject property" refers to the property owner's property.
The property owner was asking for a reduction in assessment from the full market value of $333,093.00 to $254,309.00. Below is a similar comparison sheet that the property owner showed the assessor. I have left off the Address and Property Identification columns because of personal information. FMV (Full Market Value), AV (Assessed Value)
In addition to the Comparable Properties, the property owner brought in a detailed labor and material list for an addition that was completed in 2021. The 2020 full market value was $166,667.00 without the full value amount of the addition. (The Taxable Status Date and Valuation Date would come into play) With the addition, the total square foot living area was 2,777 square feet. The total amount spent for the addition was $85,308.80. This would have shown a full market value of $251,976.00.
I believe what the property owner was trying to show was that the subject property was assessed at a higher per-square-foot price than the average of the other ten properties. This could prove Excessive Assessment with a few calculations of subtracting the land values from the full market value and then dividing the total by the square feet of the residence. This should be done for each comparable property.
After calling to try to talk to the assessor for two weeks - from May 12 to May 24 - and having received no reduction from an informal meeting with the assessor, the property owner filled out the required RP-524 forms to appear before the local Board of Assessment Review. The same material was presented before the Board of Assessment Review. According to the property owner’s testimony, the Board of Assessment Review never asked the assessor any questions about the assessment.
On May 24, 2022, the property owner received the form RP-525 from the Board of Assessment Review stating the assessment had not been reduced because the proof of value presented was inadequate because the supporting data was insufficient.
The Property Owner Then Seeks Outside Help
On June 30, 2022, after contacting the Tax My Property Fairly website, the property owners hired me to represent them in their Small Claims Assessment Review case.
The first thing I did was review the information presented to the assessor and the Board of Assessment Review. I took the comparable properties provided by the property owner and added two columns (in red) to better explain the square foot pricing. I also added the subject property to the list. All of the square foot prices are "Assessed Values" not Full Market Values. (See image below.)
Although the way the property owner presented the comparable properties may not have been the easiest to understand, a few simple calculations made it very easy. With proper training, any assessor or Board of Assessment Review should have been able to do this. Once the land value is subtracted from the assessed market value and divided by the square living footage of each comparable property it showed an average square living foot price of $32.03. The subject property was assessed at $48.74 per square living foot. This clearly showed an over-assessment of $46,403.00 or a full market value of $286,690.00 without adjustments made to make each residence equal if sold.
Another simple process that was missed by both the assessor and the Board of Assessment Review was taking the 2021 full market value of $175,926.00 and adding the full value of the addition ($85,308.80) that was provided to them. This would have shown a full market value of $261,235.00. Still well below the estimated full market value of the assessor at $333,093.00.
Without doing any of my own research, I now had three different estimated full market values for the subject property that had been presented by the property owner. All were well below the assessor's estimated assessment of $333,093.00.
- $286,690.00 (without adjustments)
- $251,976.00 (using the 2020 full market value and the partial addition)
- $261,235.00 (using the 2021 full market value and the addition)
The assessor is always presumed to be correct and the burden of proof that an assessment is incorrect is on the property owner.
The assessor is also required by New York State Real Property Tax Services to provide proof of how an assessment was achieved when it is challenged by a property owner. This is taught to renewing and new members of the Board when they take their training.
The Board in this grievance failed to ask the assessor for such proof. Whether it was the lack of training or a simple way out, I do not know, but the Board of Assessment Review completely missed the proof provided to them and incorrectly agreed with the assessor to deny this grievance.
The training manuals for Assessors, Boards of Assessment Review, and Hearing Officers, state that decisions are to be made by the facts presented. It is crucial that assessments be made on current and accurate data.
I began my own research and compiled ten comparable properties. A few of the properties were the same as the property owner had shown but I was using entirely different criteria. I was not basing the comparable properties solely on the square foot price but through adjustments to make each property virtually the same as if they were sold. I was using the recommended procedure to grieve an assessment published by the New York State Department of Taxation & Finance and the Office of Real Property Tax Services. (How to Estimate the Market Value of Your Home), a Blank Comparable Sales Analysis Chart and the Comparable Sales Analysis Adjustment Formula as found on this website.
This completely separate process of estimating a full market value came within $4.00 of what the property owner was originally asking for. This proved the estimated full market value of $333,093.00 was excessive and should be lowered to the amount requested on the RP-524 form.
Filing for SCAR procedure
It was now time to fill out the necessary forms to file for the SCAR procedure.
This is also where this grievance took some strange twists.
I want to point out that New York State and New York State Real Property Tax Services make it very clear that the property owner has certain deadlines and procedures to follow, or the grievance will be dismissed. If only it worked both ways!
The RPTL 730-A forms for Small Claims Assessment Review were filled out on July 6, 2022, and sent to all required recipients. All papers need to be filed within 30 days of the posting of the final assessment roll for the assessing unit. This was well within the 30 days.
After not hearing anything, I called the County's Supreme Court Clerk on August 24, 2022, and asked about the SCAR Hearing date. I was told the case had been assigned to a Hearing Officer on July 6, 2022. I always like to know who I am up against, so I did some research on the Hearing Officer. He was located in Long Island, New York, and not upstate New York! How is a person from Long Island going to know what properties in upstate New York sell for? I was also told the hearing was to be held by Zoom or Skype. I asked to have it held in person but was not given that option. What are the elderly and people without internet going to do?
Hearing Officers have 45 days to set a hearing date after being assigned the case. This deadline had come and gone. Two more weeks passed with no information about a hearing date so I called the County Supreme Court Clerk again. She stated I was being assigned a new Hearing Officer and he was quite prompt in responding. At least this one was from upstate New York. On September 12, I was assigned a new Hearing Officer and he set the Hearing Date for October 12, 2022. This was the last day before another deadline would pass. On October 12, 2002, a SCAR Hearing was conducted over Zoom.
The Hearing Officer had quite an accent and sometimes was hard to understand. I had sent the original copy of my complaint to the first Hearing Officer, so I had to send the copy for the assessor to the second Hearing Officer. There was no way that had been set up to share material during the Zoom meeting. This is why I wanted to have the Hearing in person. The copy of my complaint sent to the second Hearing Officer included supporting documents such as my ten comparable property spreadsheet, the Pamphlet on How to Estimate the Market Value of Your Home, the Current Comparable Sales Analysis Adjustment Formula, a page from the SCAR Hearing Officer's Manual on "The Decision," the proof required for Excessive Assessment, a copy of the Valuation Standards from the Assessor's Manual and my opening statement.
I gave the explanation of my complaint first at the Hearing. The proof I provided was substantial as explained above. Once I was done, it was the assessor's turn to supply proof for the new assessment. The only information that was provided was that the addition was assessed at $50.00 per square foot. This number came from what another assessor in an adjacent town was charging in her jurisdiction. No other supporting proof such as recent sales or comparable properties was provided.
The Hearing Officer had told me several times that no other evidence would be accepted after the Hearing.
Yet, at the end of the meeting, he gave the assessor a couple of days to provide more proof than what was provided at the Hearing. Why? I immediately asked for a rebuttal of any proof received after the Hearing. He seemed stunned and surprised that I asked to rebut any information provided by the assessor but he agreed.
Twenty days after the Hearing, I received a copy of the information the assessor had provided to the Hearing Officer.
I sent this email to the Hearing Officer asking if he was going to accept the information this late:
Today I received this email from the Town assessor. I am interested if you are accepting this evidence that has now been presented by the assessor twenty days after the hearing. If so, I would like to review this new evidence and have ample time to rebut the evidence that has been provided. I do recall you stating twice that any evidence not provided prior to the hearing would not be accepted. You changed your mind and allowed the assessor a couple of days after the hearing to provide comparable properties. This was okay as long as I had the chance to rebut any comparable properties she produced.Twenty days to me seems to be quite excessive. Please respond to this email so I will know if I need to prepare a rebuttal.
Warren Leisenring Jr.
The email went unanswered.
This is a copy of the email the assessor sent to the Hearing Officer with the additional information. Personal information has been removed:
November 1, 2022
Attached please find the documentation that was requested.
The first attachment are photos that I took trying to show the (2) story addition. I also noted that there is an in ground swimming pool and what looks a pool house that was not on the record here in this office. I have asked the Codes Dept to see if permits were pulled prior to the complainant's ownership and etc. There is also a photo that was shared with this office (below) of what appears to be a new deck off the back of the home that doesn't appear to be on the inventory here either.
The second attachment is the document I believe you wanted that the complainant brought into the office. (comparable properties) Forgive the pencil marks as those were mine.
Again my valuation was done based upon the 2-story addition using $50 per sq. ft. of Assessed Value. I did consult with the Assessor for the Town of _________ and he/she uses an assessed value amount of $50 a sq. ft. for renovations also, $72 sq. ft. new construction, In ground pools $10,000.
Look forward to hearing from you, please let me know if there is anything else you would like me to provide.
This was my rebuttal with the personal information removed:
November 4, 2022
SCAR Hearing Officer
Upstate County, New York
Mr. Hearing Officer,
This is my rebuttal to the additional information provided by the assessor in the (owners name) SCAR Hearing.
I do not believe the assessor has supplied the information that was requested. My understanding was the information requested was for the assessor to prove how the assessment was established as required by the Office of Real Property and New York State. The spreadsheet of comparable properties now presented by the assessor is only a copy of the comparables the property owner provided to the Board of Assessment Review and not those used in the SCAR Hearing to prove Excessive Assessment. You will see this on my spreadsheet titled "2022 Comparable Property Analysis Chart - 2022 Final Roll." These were provided to you as supporting documentation in my argument. The assessor has made pencil marks noting the square footage and style on the property owner’s comparable properties.
· There is no explanation of the notes made by the assessor on the property owner’s comparable properties. As I explained at the Hearing, assessors make mistakes on square living area footage by including the land assessment in the square living area price. This is exactly what the assessor has done. For each of the properties under the "2022 Assessment," the land has not been deducted from the Total Assessed Value to give an accurate square living footage value for the comparable properties.
· The assessor has noted that the comparable properties are different from the subject property. The requirements for Excessive Assessment do not state that comparable properties need to be the same style or from the same assessment roll as the subject property. It is just the opposite. Adjustments are to be made to make each comparable property the same as if it were to be sold. All of this was done. Comparable properties can come from adjacent rolls. This is explained in section 1.4.1 of the Valuation Standards for assessors and in the NYS SCAR Hearing Officer's Manual under "The Decision." Only Unequal Assessment requires the comparable properties to be from the same assessment roll. (These were attached in my original argument.)
The three recent photos the assessor provided showing a two-story residence was never in dispute. I asked the property owner about the in-ground pool and pool house. This was her response:
The pool was installed 13 years before we purchased the home so it is almost 20 years old. It is failing and we plan it fill it in next year. I believe the "pool house" was there before the pool as inside it was used as a kennel and the siding matches our original home. the deck was there when we purchased the home but was in such poor shape (it was painted over the year we bought it) that we had to redo most of it for the safety of our family and friends. failing supports and rails and deck boards were rotting. We actually decreased the size of the deck. if you look on Zillow the old deck is still there. I can send along the original receipt of the pool when it was installed two owners ago, a screenshot of the County website showing my so called pool house, actually a shed as being installed in 1960 and in fair condition. Also screenshots of Zillow showing the aerial shot of the deck that was on the house when we bought it. We had to redo the rail, deck boards and most of the supporting posts. It was actually listed in the home inspection because the railing was collapsing but I'm not sure I still have a copy of that specifically. (Attached)
Pertaining to the assessor's statement that the back deck, pool and pool house photo were "shared with her office." The property owner had this response: "the assessor took a picture from my husband's social media and in no way was that "shared with that office."
· As you can see from the attached contract, the pool was installed in 2003 for the previous owners.
· The pool house or shed is shown on the County website for this property under "Site Improvements." It is listed as a Shed-aluminum, built in 1960 and in fair condition. The shed size is 480 sq. ft. (16' x 30'). The siding on the shed is the same as the original siding of the house. (Photo attached - "Pool Shed")
· The new deck that is referred to would be classified as maintenance and is not assessable according to the testimony above. The reason for this is the deck is already being assessed as new. No depreciation has been made for deterioration over the years so it can not be reassessed at a higher value for maintaining the deck for safety issues. This comes from years of experience as a Board of Assessment Review member. (Training for this is now being done for Board of Assessment Review members in Wayne County)
· The pool and pool house were included in the sale price when the complainant purchased the property. Therefore, they can not be added to the assessment again.
The detailed spreadsheet provided by me at the SCAR Hearing proved an estimated full market value of the complainant's property to be $254,305.00 when adjusted to comparable properties. At the current Equalization Rate, the "assessed value" should be $123,338.00. The process used to achieve this estimated full market value was the highly recommended process published by the New York State Department of Finance and the Office of Real Property. (How to Estimate the Market Value of Your Home) The asking and proven full market value requested by the complainant is $254,309.00. All requirements to prove Excessive Assessment have been presented to you.
The assessor to date has not provided any proof on how the assessment was established other than a $50.00 per square foot price for the addition. At no time has the assessor provided any comparable properties of her own or any recent sales similar to the complainant's property to support the assessment of $333,093.00. The assessor is required by New York State Real Property Tax Services to provide information on how an assessment was established when challenged. This has not been done.
My thoughts are that a major problem here lies with a Town that has not conducted an update for 27 years (1995) and the current Equalization Rate is at 48.5%. It is not the property owner that is responsible for individual items that have been overlooked and not updated for 27 years. This is evident with the in ground pool and pool house that was included in the sale of the property that the complainant purchased but was never entered into the assessor's RFV (Residential, Farm, Vacant Land) Property Record Card. Until the Town realizes it has a problem and needs an update, these types of issues will continue to grow.
Warren Leisenring Jr.
Representative for (property owner)
As you can see this letter was emailed on November 4, 2022. Now we had to wait for a decision. A Hearing officer has 30 days to render a decision after the Hearing.
Waiting for the Hearing Officer’s Decision
On December 1, 2022, I emailed the Executive Director of the New York State Assessor's Association and asked if it was normal for a Hearing Officer to accept more information from an assessor after the Hearing was held. He said it was a first for him. I also called the County Supreme Court Clerk to see if there was any update on the decision of the Hearing Officer because he only had 30 days to render a decision. It was now 59 days and counting. The Court Clerk told me the last "due date" was November 26 and that he was overwhelmed with cases. How many deadlines are allowed to be missed before the case is dismissed? The property owner cannot miss one deadline.
The Decision Comes and Prompts Many Questions
On December 10, 2022, the property owner received the decision from the Hearing Officer. The Hearing Officer had rendered a decision of $310,000.00. This decision came with many questions. Personal information has been removed.
- Why was the decision 29 days past the allowable timeframe?
- Why was the decision sent to the property owner and not to the representative as stated on the RPTL 730 form "Decision of the Hearing Officer?"
- Why wasn't a copy of the decision sent to the assessor?
- Why did the decision not contain the findings of fact concerning the assessment?
- Why was there no basis for the decision?
Due to personal information on the actual form, I made an exact copy of the form and typed in the same information as it was on the original form without the personal information.
I immediately sent this email to the Hearing Officer:
Mr. Hearing Officer,
I received a copy of your decision from the SCAR case today. With all due respect, I am requesting a detailed report of the town assessor's explanation that weighed so heavily on your decision in the Hearing. I am also requesting a further explanation on how you arrived at the assessment number for the decision. I do not understand what she could have provided to you that was not provided to me to sway a decision so much in the assessor's favor. Her assessment was achieved solely by a square foot price and not by recent sales or comparable properties as required by Real Property. No comparable properties or recent sales were ever provided by the assessor for proof. You could see on the spreadsheet that the complainant’s property's full market residence was priced at $110.51 per square foot. ($48.73 per sq. ft. assessed value) The comparable properties that I provided showed a full market range from $44.88 to $89.88 per square foot. ($21.05 to $38.83 per sq. ft. assessed value) The average being $70.10. ($30.28 assessed value) This completely proved excessive assessment as compared to others and an adjusted full market value of $254,309.00. (assessed value of $123,339.00)
As shown on the 2022 Assessment Notification
2021 original 1446 sq. ft. @ $47.57 = $68,800.00
2022 addition 1331 sq. ft. @ $50.00 = $66,550.00
2022 Land $26,200.00
Total $161,550.00 assessed value
Please kindly respond to this email.
Warren Leisenring Jr.
As with the other emails, this also went unanswered.
On December 12th, 2022, I received an email from the assessor asking if anyone had heard from the Hearing Officer. Unbelievably she had not been notified of the decision. I sent her a copy of what the property owner had sent me because she was the only one that had been notified. This began many good emails between the assessor and me. In one of the emails, the assessor told me she had also requested a more detailed explanation which had gone unanswered.
Because the assessor was not notified, she was concerned that others who needed a copy of the decision may not be notified and suggested the property owner make copies of the decision and take them to the people in person. This was a very nice suggestion.
In one of our emails, I expressed interest in talking about the assessment with the assessor. She was very receptive, and a phone conversation was set up for December 15, 2022. I emailed the assessor the information that had been given to the Hearing Officer prior to the phone call for her to review and see how the grievance was done.
On December 16, 2022, I received a copy of the Hearing Officer’s decision in the mail from the Supreme County Combined Court Activities. It listed the names of the people and offices that were mailed a copy of the Hearing Officer's decision. Neither the assessor's name nor office was on the list. The list was dated October 13, 2022. This was the day after the hearing
After no response from the Hearing Officer, on January 3, I called the County Supreme Court Clerk and explained to her what I had requested from the Hearing officer about a more detailed explanation of the facts and reasoning for his decision. She stated that almost every decision he had made in his cases were in question. She said he was supposed to be addressing the issue. I told the clerk I felt that any explanation at this time would be manufactured to fit his decision and not based on facts. She also said the issue was being turned over to the County offices.
On January 18, I received a phone call from the County Supreme Court Clerk requesting a written complaint against the Hearing Officer. I do not know if this had ever been requested before. I would have included the complaint letter, but it is much similar to this case study. The complaint letter was emailed on the same day.
On January 19, I received an email from the State of New York Unified Court System stating a Justice from the Supreme Court had been in touch with the Hearing Officer and he had agreed to issue a revised decision containing his findings of fact and the basis for his decision.
The Assessor Reviews Information and Revises Decision
In my conversations with the assessor, I understood the main problem was with training. The assessor had mentioned she had learned a lot throughout this process and was always willing to learn. After reviewing all the information I had sent, I received this email on January 31, 2023.
I have read and reviewed everything that you have presented here and have made the decision to correct the FMV to 254,305 putting the AV @ 123,338. This has been inputted onto the 2023 Tax roll and will be part of the tentative roll and become final. Please let me know if you have any questions you can call my cell or email me at both locations. -- Assessor's name
This was exactly the amount of reduction I was asking for.
On February 21, 2023, I emailed the State of New York Supreme Unified Court System and notified them that the Hearing Officer had not responded to the agreement made with the Supreme Court Judge. On February 22, 2023, I received an email from the Court stating the issue is being reviewed with the Administrative Judge and I will receive an update on it when it is done. We will see what happens.
If this case does not make you shake your head, nothing will. The property owner in this case lost several thousand dollars in unnecessary and non-recoverable property taxes because the current system does not provide assessors, Boards of Assessment Review and Hearing Officers with adequate training.
- From the beginning, the only proof provided was from the complainant, the property owner.
- There was no proof from the assessor as far as comparable recent sales or comparable properties.
- Proof from only one side should have been enough convincing proof for a favorable decision and this should never have left the Board of Assessment Review.
- Yet this grievance took a year and made it all the way to the Unified Court System of the Supreme Court for the State of New York.
- Most property owners may have given up with the first decision, but this property owner and I persevered and did not give up because we knew we were in the right.
- This should be an embarrassment to those who train assessors and members of Boards of Assessment Review and those who hire Hearing Officers in the Real Property System.
- The current training is one-sided, as this grievance has shown.
- Why are assessors and Boards of Assessment Review taught how to judge assessments one way and property owners are taught how to grieve an assessment another way? How often will we allow this to happen before the training becomes complete and not one-sided?
I hold no individual responsible for what happened in this grievance. A broken and incomplete system is at fault.
- The assessor thought she had made a correct assessment based on training. Fortunately, she was willing to listen and learn as things developed in this grievance. No one pressured her into making any type of decision. The conclusion and decision she made was her own and came from learning how New York State Real Property Tax Services taught property owners to grieve an assessment once it was explained.
I hope the Board of Assessment Review can learn from its errors. I have had no contact with them.
To property owners my advice is:
- Do not be afraid to ask the assessor how an assessment is achieved. It is required by New York State Real Property Tax Services.
To Boards of Assessment Review, my advice is:
- If you do not know an answer or there is any doubt, research the answer before you just deny a grievance.
- Base your decision on the facts presented to you. All you need is convincing evidence.
- Learn how an assessment is made and learn how an assessment is grieved so you know when it has or has not been proven.
To Counties my advice is:
- Don’t look outside of neighboring counties for Hearing Officers. Hearing Officers from Long Island will not work for upstate New York as they found out.
- Make the Zoom or Skype Hearing a choice and not mandatory. You are leaving the elderly and those without internet behind. The basic right here is to have a fair and honest Hearing where people can talk and exchange material. This could not be done at this Hearing.
The Mass Appraisal System was supposed to eliminate subjective decisions and bias but it is only as good as the information that is entered into it for each property. You can’t put a group of houses together and think they are all the same to get an average assessment. This is how you get Unequal and Excessive Assessments.
If we went back to the basics and had one assessor per assessing unit (not one for four units) who goes through each residence with the property owner archiving what is there, then create a system similar to my formula once you have the data for adjustments, maybe, just maybe things could be better. Have the formula readily available to the public for review and understanding. If there were any grievances, they could be understood.
The property owner received a notice from the assessor that their assessment had increased from a full market value of $175, 926.00 to $333,093.00." These notifications are also known as "impact statements.
May 12, 2022
Informal meeting with the assessor.
May 12, 2022
The RP-524 form was completed, received and time stamped by the assessor.
May 12 to May 24, 2022
After receiving no reduction from an informal meeting with the assessor, the property owner filled out the required RP-524 forms to appear before the local Board of Assessment Review. The same material was presented before the Board of Assessment Review. According to the property owner’s testimony, the Board of Assessment Review never asked the assessor any questions about the assessment.
May 24, 2022
Grievance Day. Form RP-525 was presented to the Board of Assessment Review
June 13, 2022
The property owner received written notice from the Board of Assessment Review stating the assessment had not been reduced because the proof of value presented was inadequate because the supporting data was insufficient.
June 30, 2022
After contacting the Tax My Property Fairly website, the property owners hired Warren to represent them in their Small Claims Assessment Review case.
July 6, 2022
RPTL 730-A forms for Small Claims Assessment Review were filled out and sent to all required recipients. All papers were filed within 30 days of the posting of the final assessment roll for the assessing unit.
August 24, 2022
After not hearing anything, Warren called the County's Supreme Court Clerk and asked about the SCAR Hearing date. He was told the case had been assigned to a Hearing Officer on July 6, 2022.
September 12, 2022
Warren was assigned a new Hearing Officer who set the Hearing Date for October 12, 2022. This was the last day before another deadline would pass.
October 12, 2002
A SCAR Hearing was conducted over Zoom.
November 1, 2022
Twenty days after the Hearing, Warren received a copy of the information the assessor had provided to the Hearing Officer.
November 4, 2022
Rebuttal was submitted to SCAR Hearing Officer, who has 30 days to render a decision after the Hearing.
December 1, 2022
Warren emailed the Executive Director of the New York State Assessors Association and asked if it was normal for a Hearing Officer to accept more information from an assessor after the Hearing was held. He said it was a first for him. Called the County Supreme Court Clerk to see if there was any update on the decision of the Hearing Officer because he only had 30 days to render a decision. It was now 59 days and counting.
December 10, 2022
The property owner received the decision from the Hearing Officer of $310,000. This decision came 29 days past the allowable timeframe and prompted many questions that Warren emailed to the Hearing Officer.
December 12, 2022
Warren received an email from the assessor asking if anyone had heard from the Hearing Officer because she had not been notified of the decision. Warren sent the assessor a copy of what the property owner had sent him because she was the only one who had been notified.
December 15, 2022
Warren emailed the assessor the information that had been given to the Hearing Officer prior to a phone call for her to review along with the grievance process.
December 16, 2022
Warren received a copy of the Hearing Officer’s decision in the mail from the Supreme County Combined Court Activities. It listed the names of the people and offices mailed a copy of the Hearing Officer's decision. Neither the assessor's name nor office was on the list. The list was dated October 13, 2022. This was the day after the hearing!
January 3, 2023
After no response from the Hearing Officer, Warren called the County Supreme Court Clerk and asking again for a more detailed explanation of the facts and reasoning for his decision. She stated that almost every decision he had made in his cases were in question and the issue was being turned over to the County offices.
January 18, 2023
Warren received a phone call from the County Supreme Court Clerk requesting a written complaint against the Hearing Officer and emailed the complaint letter that day.
January 19, 2023
Warren hears from the State of New York Unified Court System stating a Justice from the Supreme Court agreed to issue a revised decision containing his findings of fact and the basis for his decision.
January 31, 2023
Assessor notified the property owner and Warren of the decision to correct the Fair Market Value to $254,305 putting the Assessed Value at 123,338, inputting it into the 2023 Tax roll, which will be part of the tentative roll and become final.
February 21, 2023
Warren emailed the State of New York Supreme Unified Court System and notified them that the Hearing Officer had not responded to the agreement made with the Supreme Court Judge.
February 22, 2023
Warren received an email from the Court stating the issue is being reviewed with the Administrative Judge and he will get an update when it is done.
March 6, 2023
Still no response from the Supreme Court.
April 11, 2023 - Successful Conclusion!
Warren reached out to the new Hearing Officer regarding the scheduled SCAR hearing to notify him of the change in status, that he and the assessor and had several communications by email. The Hearing was held via Zoom with no way to share documents. He sent the assessor all the information that was given to the previous Hearing Officer. The assessor reviewed the information for two weeks and came to the conclusion that the property was in fact excessively assessed. Seeing she could not make any adjustments to the 2022 assessment because of the SCAR decision ($310,000.00), she lowered the 2023 assessment to the requested amount of $254,309.00. Now that the assessor agreed with Warren on the reduced assessment, in a normal grievance this would have been a stipulation.
The new Hearing Officer replied immediately saying settlement in these circumstances is certainly the best option if possible and asked Warren to submit a written stipulation of the terms signed and notarized by both parties.
The matter was settled and everything is being recorded properly, especially with the added scrutiny over these specific cases.
Updated Apr 25, 2023