While the holidays are the season of giving, municipal governments have chosen the same time of year to send out tax bills.
In East Hampton Town, some 22,500 tax bills were mailed to town property owners over the last two weeks, calling for payments totalling $153,753,363.
That total includes tax receipts, levied by the town, that will go to school districts, the county, the town and special assessment districts such as those for fire protection. In most areas of the town, most of the money collected through any single bill goes to the school district in which the property is located. A breakdown in percentages is given on each bill, showing how much each taxing entity will receive.
Half of each bill is due by January 10; the second half must be paid by May 31. Payments can be made in installments of $200 but penalties apply for any amount not paid by the deadline.
The $153 million total warrant for all taxes billed by the town, including the monies that will be distributed to the respective school districts, is more than $17 million higher than the amount collected in 2008 due to hikes in school and town taxes. The town’s portion of the levy increased by 24 percent this year. East Hampton Town’s five school districts increased their levies between five and 15 percent.
The East Hampton School District will take in the largest single levy by a school district in the town, $41.1 million, about $2.5 million higher than in 2008. Springs School District was second, at a little more than $18 million, followed by Montauk at $14 million, Amagansett at $6 million and Wainscott at $2 million.
The tax levy for an individual property owner is based on the assessed value, rather than full value, as in most other towns. Each tax bill notifies taxpayers of the assessed value, which is considered by the town to be about 4 percent of what the estimated market value of the property was when it was last assessed. If an individual property has not had a major change, or changed hands recently, its assessment should not have changed—even if local real estate values have changed.
That’s something the state says makes East Hampton’s tax rolls obsolete and unfair to new property owners, whose assessments reflect later, higher values, and a boon to longer term property owners, whose assessment may reflect old, lower values. Supervisor Bill McGintee has begun pushing for the town to undertake a complete reassessment, something many other towns have done, including Southampton and Shelter Island.
East Hampton Town’s tax bills do show a full value calculation, which is based on a state-controlled equalization rate, also shown on the bill. The full value assessment is not used to calculate any part of the tax bill.
Because East Hampton Town has never done a town-wide reassessment, the state has declared that the total assessments in the town are only about 75-percent of their actual value. Town assessors have said that many properties are probably far less accurately assessed than even that fraction suggests.