May 10, 2006
Since taking office in November, Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell has logged on regularly to websites such as greenport.org to see what his constituents are talking about and respond directly.
One of the hottest issues on the site these days is that of the possibility of a tax reassessment of residential and commercial properties in Southold. Some believe that with prices of waterfront homes soaring, tax assessments are just not fair. Many residents in more humble homes are paying the same tax rate as their more affluent neighbors.
But, said Russell, a former town tax assessor, a reassessment in the near future is "not likely" for Southold Town. "The current market is in flux and it would not be a good time to peg values," he said, especially considering "the uncertainty of the market" over the past several months.
Russell reminded that over the last few years, residential values grew at a much higher rate than commercial values. "A current re-val would shift burdens away from the commercial sector and place it on the residential sector," he said.
However, the supervisor said the subject of reassessment of the town's 13,107 residential parcels and 70 commercial properties should be taken up after the market stablilizes.
Russell said aside from the website, no one in town has actually approached him about reassessment, other than when a Riverhead tax assessor suggested the Riverhead Town Board approach Russell and see if he was interested in a joint venture.
"I'm not," he said, adding that public education on the issue would be crucial before any reassessment could be embarked upon.
In Riverhead, the town board has been contemplating the reassessment of the town's nearly 16,000 properties, a project with a price tag of $2 million. The lengthy project, if begun, would not be completed until 2010, and there would be a cost associated with keeping the tax rolls updated after that point.
It has been nearly 30 years since Riverhead conducted a reassessment, and nearly as long since Southold updated its tax rolls.