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Greenwich Assessor Calls Tax Growth Reasonable

Greenwich property taxes will increase in the coming fiscal year by 2.87 percent, according to the Board of Estimate & Taxation. Town tax assessor Ted Gwartney called this increase moderate.  “People think I can do magic. They say, ‘Why don’t you just never raise any taxes period,’” said Gwartney. “[The increase] is no different this year than any other year.”

The Board of Estimate & Taxation voted Thursday evening to approve the increased mill rate for the fiscal year beginning July 1. The rate is based on the town’s $358 million budget, approved by the Representative Town Meeting earlier this week.

The mill rate was approved at an increase of 1.25 mills, based on assessed town property. The current rate of mills is 8.87 for every $1,000 of assessed property. Property connected to town sewers will have a mill rate of $10.64 for every $1,000 of assessed property. All other property will pay $10.11 for every $1,000 of assessed property.

Property assessment appeals were completed last month. Gwartney said the number of owners seeking appeals decreased by 50 percent compared with the town’s previous assessment in 2005. There were a total of 546 appeals out of 21,332 properties assessed. Only 293 appeals were granted.

The New York Times reported an overwhelming number property tax appeals in Westchester County, N.Y. The main reason for Greenwich’s low numbers, he said, was the town reduced assessments by 13 percent and people appeal only when assessments are raised.

“We recognized the downward sales and adjusted our assessments. Some other assessors aren’t doing that,” said Gwartney, who made presentations to 24 civic organizations, so people knew what to expect. “Unlike Westchester, we went out of our way to explain the process.”

The only way to contest assessments after appeals is by going to court, which can be a costly and time-consuming measure, said Gwartney. From the 2005 assessments, 119 cases were made, and there are still nine that have gone unheard.

Tax bills will begin arriving in Greenwich mailboxes in July. First, the Grand List needs a revision to reflect the mill rate and assessment appeals. For appeals, Gwartney said the list would be reduced by 0.34 percent.

What do you think of the property tax increase? Do you think it was too high? Comment below or send responses to ahelhoski@mainstreetconnect.us.

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