Anyone can grieve their property valuations, but on Shelter Island, the numbers of those who do have remained relatively the same through the years, according to Assessor BJ Ianfolla.In 2015, there were 38 grievances filed. This year, 34 property owners sought adjustments on grievance day, May 17 — ironically, the same day as the vote on the school district’s $11 million budget that passed by two votes.
Ms. Ianfolla said she doesn’t know why Shelter Island sets the third Tuesday of May as the day taxpayers can discuss their bill with assessors. Most communities schedule tax grievance day for the fourth Tuesday in May. But on the Island, it has been a week earlier for as long as she can remember.
The current tax rate on the Island is $6.027 per $1,000 of valuation, the lowest on the East End and possibly the lowest on Long Island. That may account for fewer grievances each year here as opposed to surrounding communities, along with a lower population, according to the assessors’ office.
Of the 34 grievances brought to the Board of Assessment Review, only five were brought directly by property owners, according to Ms. Ianfolla. The rest were handled by tax relief companies that select the highest valued properties from the assessment roll, hoping they can recover substantial sums of money. These companies work on a contingency basis with taxpayers.
Ms. Castoldi and Ms. Ianfolla worked with former Assessor Al Hammond, who retired at the end of 2015. Mr. Hammond, they agreed, built a reputation among both real estate professionals and property owners as a man with a firm grasp of valuations.
The team that carries on has reorganized in terms of responsibilities, but continues in terms of the methodology used.
With Quinn Karpeh elected to an assessor’s post in November, there are now three sets of eyes on residential valuations. That used to be done by Mr. Hammond with Ms. Castoldi handling commercial valuations and Ms. Ianfolla in charge of data base management.
If the Board of Assessment Review rejects a claim for a reduction in property valuations, homeowners or their representatives can plead their cases in small claims court, hoping for a better result.
Results aren’t in yet from this year’s grievance process, but Ms. Ianfolla said she and her colleagues have tried to explain the process to as many taxpayers as possible this year.
As part of the New York State mandated grievance process, the assessors are available to discuss valuations they assign in advance of grievance day. Potential problems can sometimes be rectified through that process, the assessors agreed.
These discussions with property owners may contribute to the low number of grievance cases appearing before the Board of Assessment Review, Mr. Karpeh speculated.
“We really like to have conversations with homeowners,” he said.