Town Board to Start Hearings on Property Revaluation

by Harriet Kline

(August 14, 2008) The Town Board met at a lengthy public working session on August 6th to review its consultant’s analysis of potential procedures and impacts of a property revaluation. The board also received results from the 2007 independent financial audit, discussed new financial reporting and reviewed possible changes to Town Zoning ordinances.

Revaluation Report

The 52-page “Impact Study on the Possible Results of A Reassessment” was a revised draft of a report prepared by Frey Consulting Services, Inc. of Middletown, New York. After an earlier review in June, the board had asked for additional details on the revaluation process.

According to the Frey report, the last time Town a property revaluation project was undertaken was in 1967-1968. Since then, updated information has come mostly from public records, such as building permits, and from some visual inspections of properties. Current data for all 8,597 parcels listed on the assessment roll (as of 2006) are stored on “property record cards” and are not in electronic format.

Having each property revalued could cost between $650,000 and $1.2 million, depending on how thoroughly each parcel is to be examined. Completion of the project would take around three years.

The Frey estimates assume a project that would include a complete data collection phase (including home visits) to update the Town’s entire inventory of residential and commercial properties. The information would be entered into electronic format to facilitate ongoing valuation purposes.

Members of the board agreed that a mass education program needs to be developed to alert residents as to the goals of the reassessments, the impact on residential and commercial properties and the positive effect on the budgeting processes of the Mamaroneck School District, the Town and the villages (Larchmont and Mamaroneck). The board’s aim is to create fair, equitable and current assessments that can be used for equitable distribution of the real property tax levy.

The board also stressed that before any reevaluation process could begin, there would be presentations by the consultants and board members at future public meetings. Public hearings are planned for October.

A copy of the entire report is available on the Town’s website. See: Revaluation Report.

2007 Independent Financial Audit Report

Dominic Consola, representing the Town’s independent auditor, Bennett, Kielson, Storch, DeSantis, presented the board with the 2007 New York State mandated audit. Mr. Consola said that “the Town of Mamaroneck is in excellent financial condition.”

Mr. Consola supported his comments by citing specific examples of revenues and expenditures in the Town’s various funds. Towns (unlike villages) in New York State are required to maintain a series of funds for specific functions: i.e. the highways fund, debt service fund, capital project fund, etc.

New Financial Reporting

Town Comptroller Anthony Siligato outlined new six-month financial reports which highlight budget fluctuations in the current and prior fiscal year. Board members were pleased with the content and format of the reports and requested that they
be prepared on a quarterly basis.

Possible Zoning Code Revisions

Arthur Wexler, chair of the Town Zoning Board of Appeals, gave the board his analysis of possible proposed changes to the zoning code. Some inconsistencies had recently been discovered. Mr. Wexler’s views as well as those of the Town Planning Board will be integrated into the zoning code revisions. Public hearings will, of course, be held before any revisions are enacted.

Rethinking Chatsworth/Myrtle Boulevard Intersection

The Traffic Commission offered the Town Board a number of recommendations. The most difficult issue revolved around the Myrtle/Chatsworth/Murray intersection. The current signage may have to be altered to accommodate both pedestrians and motorists.

The board agreed to schedule a public hearing for September 17, at which time it will consider the following changes recommended by the Traffic Commission:

(1) The No Left Turn prohibition from Myrtle Boulevard onto North Chatsworth Avenue should be amended to prohibit left turns only between 7:00 am and 9:00 am and 5:00 pm and 7:00 pm

(2) Remove the directional signs in the northbound direction on Myrtle Boulevard that direct traffic to Myrtle Boulevard and Murray Avenue.

(3) Remove the "No Turn on Red" signs at each point in the intersection and replace with signs stating "Stop for Pedestrians in Crosswalk." The exclusive pedestrian phase in the traffic signal timing would remain as is.

Propane Tank Safety

At the 8:15 pm public meeting, the board renewed its discussion of the potential dangers of large underground propane gas tanks. (See: Propane Tank Leak Sparks Possible Legislation.)

Mike DeGiorgio of the Paraco Gas Company assured board members that newer tanks are indeed safer because of extensive coating on the outside of the tanks. But the board is troubled by the lack of mandatory inspection and testing procedures for older, underground tanks in the community. Whatever regulations are enacted, they will apply only to propane tanks which hold more than 50 pounds of propane.

A public meeting was set for September 17 to discuss possible legislation to insure public safety. Town Council Bill Maker indicated that the idea of regulating propane tank inspections and testing was a new one for municipalities.

Upcoming Meetings

Wednesday September 3: regularly scheduled Town Board meeting

Wednesday September 17: public hearing to discuss the Myrtle/Chatsworth/Murray intersection and possible propane gas tank regulations.

Wednesday October 17: public hearing to review the Voucher Program Administrative Plan for Section 8 Housing.