Spurred by fears of drastic and sudden increases in their tax bills, Mamaroneck residents—many of them condo and apartment dwellers—came out in full force last week to protest the town’s consideration of a Homestead Tax.
The Homestead Tax Option—if adopted by the Town of Mamaroneck as local law—could potentially cause those residing in condos, apartments and co-ops and commercial building owners to pay a larger share of taxes. Those living in condos that were originally built as condos and not converted would be exempt from the tax. The Tax Option would affect 650 of the 8,700 parcels in the town.
Consideration of the tax by local municipalities can only be done in conjunction with a reassessment and is intended to prevent a large shift of the tax burden to the residential—or homestead—class of property owners after a revaluation; residential rates also tend to increase at a faster rate, which makes it more likely that they are paying a bigger piece of the property tax pie.
Many residents gathered in the town’s courtroom argued that the tax was unfair and would penalize senior citizens and those on fixed incomes who would be priced out of the community.
In a letter read at the meeting, the Carlton House’s board president wrote, “Any significant increase will be a further financial hardship….It is simply not fair to now remove the protections which had been given to condo owners under state law upon which they have depended.”
The letter went on to say that a large increase in taxes would not only decrease the value of the units but would be inequitable from the standpoint that condos use less municipal services than single family homes.
“Please don’t make living in this town unaffordable,” the letter concluded, a statement that many in the room applauded.
Roger Stavis, a Pine Ridge resident, echoed the board president’s sentiments.
“You’re talking about raising tax 100 percent on people that moved from their homes and have fixed incomes. When you started this meeting, you talked about fairness: that’s not fair.”
The lone voice of dissension was a homeowner in the Village of Mamaroneck, Sue McCrory, who said, “I think if there’s a $1 million house and a $1 million condo they shouldn’t have wildly disparate values.”
She went on to say, “I believe you’re not paying your fair share of taxes for the services that are delivered.”
In an estimate provided by GAR Associates, the company contracted to perform the town’s revaluation, a non-Homestead residence whose taxable value is currently $299K, paying $6,820 in annual taxes would be valued at $505K and would pay approximately $11,400 in taxes under the Homestead Option, a number that drew audible gasps from residents.
The board eventually agreed to drop the idea from consideration and did not act to pass the proposed local law.
“It doesn’t seem to us that it makes much sense to adopt Homestead at this time because it looks like the relative increase for the Homestead class is quite small compared to the very large increase for the non-Homestead class,” said Town Supervisor Nancy Seligson, referring to the reassessed values.