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J.F. Ryan Attempts and Fails to Explain Valuation Model

Ryan8-17At a packed and heated meeting at Village Hall on August 17th, John F. Ryan, the man who produced the 2016 revaluation, was reprimanded for failing to "show his work," by a frustrated group of residents who sought to understand the derivation of the direct market value he used to significantly alter the assessments of many homes in Scarsdale.

Some feared he would fail to show up, but he appeared as scheduled and sought to answer questions that had previously been sent his way. Despite a smooth presentation about the theory behind the model, he was unable to satisfy an angry group who made a persuasive case that he did a slipshod job on the 2016 revaluation. Ryan showed new data to demonstrate that his model successfully predicts sale prices, but did not reveal the derivation of the coefficients used to build the model. He also claimed that he no longer had any of the reports that were run after the model was formulated and tested, but defended his work contending that his model was a strong predictor of market values. Saying he "attempted to find the best combination of property components to estimate the value" and that he used "appraisal judgment," Ryan implied that he used his expertise, rather than mathematical formulas, to derive the model coefficients. Because the residents were unable to reproduce the output of Ryan's model, they remained highly suspicious of the new valuations and also claimed that the model was significantly biased, causing smaller properties to be over-assessed, and larger ones to be under-assessed

Ryan opened the meeting with a lengthy ryanalbanesepresentation of his credentials and history with the Village of Scarsdale. He explained that he was originally retained to do project monitoring services on the 2014 revaluation, including on-site quality and vendor collected data review. At the time, he recommended that implementing the 2014 revaluation would improve fairness.

He defended the timing of this second revaluation on the heels of the first one, saying, "New York State recommends cyclical revaluation. It is best management practice to maintain values at market value. There were changes in market conditions since 2013. The assessment required updating to improve fairness (which brought a big boo and hiss from the audience.)" He added that there were concerns in the 2014 revaluation about the 48 sub-neighborhoods created by Tyler. In Ryan's model for 2016 these were condensed into 16 sub-neighborhoods.

Ryan explained that in 2014 Tyler Technologies employed automated comparable sales using seven value indicators (or combinations thereof). He said, that the 2014 revaluation was "an opaque process that is difficult for the appraiser's office to maintain because the assessor can't get into the head of the field reviewer." He explained, "for the 2016 revaluation, it was made clear to us that we needed a more clear, more transparent process for the assessors office and the residents." This statement also brought boos from the vocal crowd, as they bemoaned the lack of transparency in Ryan's approach.

Critics were keen to find out why so many sales had been thrown out of the model, and both Ryan and Albanese sought to explain the wide variety of reasons that over 100 sales were discarded. They said that out of the 499 sales during that period, 395 were considered valid sales and used to build the model, but only 220 were used to validate it. Some of the reasons sales were thrown out were because properties straddled neighborhoods, no money was transferred, buyers and sellers were related, they were not arms length transactions or the properties were knocked down or changed in condition following the sale.

crowdThough the assessor said that invalidation codes were provided for each sale that was discarded, that data has not been made public. This was also a cause for concern for those who spent many hours trying to understand the model and reproduce the results.

Ryan gave a lengthy defense of his qualifications and those of the others who worked on the revaluation. He explained that the original team included Roland Gosselin, who discovered he had a stage four glioblastoma (brain tumor) in January and was not able to work. In his place, they hired Gerd Semmelroggan, an unlicensed residential appraiser, to do the drive bys for the revaluation.

He explained the factors that went into the model, but did not provide the derivation of the coefficients that were used in it. Particularly troubling to the group, were the neighborhood coefficients that assigned a 1.3 to Fox Meadow, thereby boosting valuations for that neighborhood.

In the week prior to the meeting, the Mayor had said that all questions for Ryan should be submitted on index cards to the Village Staff, who would sort through them and pose questions at the meeting. However, there were loud objections to that procedure by some who wanted to verbally question Ryan at the meeting. The Mayor ultimately relented and it quickly became clear why these residents wanted the opportunity to speak. Their questions, and statements veered away from the statistical model to direct attacks on Ryan, his credentials, his staff, the history of other revaluations he conducted and his relationship with Ms. Albanese. In fact, rather than a Q&A, portions of the meeting felt more like a court martial, with residents cross-examining Albanese, Ryan, the Mayor, Trustees and the Village Attorney.

Josh Frankel who has been a vocal opponent of the 2016 reval said, "42% of the sales are invalid. .... These need to be documented. No one knows where the missing sales went. The law says that no more than 10-20% of outliers should be trimmed. I don't see the explanation."

Albanese explained, "There are no missing sales. There was a misunderstanding about the number of sales that were used to test the model. The numbers are accurate." Her voice cracked as she pleaded with Frankel, saying, "Josh --what other possible explanation could there be?"

rodriguezMayra Kirkendall-Rodriguez who has led the campaign to discredit Ryan and void the revaluation came to the mic to take on Ryan and Albanese. She revealed that Gerd Semmelroggan had been arrested during the time he worked in Scarsdale. Rodriguez sought to make the Village Managers, Albanese and Ryan look irresponsible. She charged, "How could you not know he was arrested? Were you aware that Gerd was driving around after he was arrested?" She implied that he posed a danger to the residents and also worked three less days due to the arrest. Village Attorney Wayne Essanason defended the village, saying, "We can only know he was arrested when we're told! These charges are allegations. There are two sides to every story. It is improper and incorrect for you to imply that the community was threatened. The crime itself is a landlord-tenant dispute. It does not include burglary or dishonesty."

Essanason said a person is presumed innocent until guilty, while Kirkendall-Rodriguez insisted that Semmelroggan must have had a Scarsdale badge with him at the time of his arrest and therefore, the Village should have been advised.

Kai-Hong Teng also sought to demonstrate that Ryan had failed to fulfill his contract. He grilled him on the academic credentials of those he had hired, and brought up several prior assessments conducted by Ryan that were contested. He said, "In 2006 Rockingham Vermont found that your assessments were wrong." In Westport, CT, the reval had to be delayed and postponed." Ryan defended both saying that in Vermont, the department had the wrong timing and in Connecticut there were political issues. Teng then turned to Albanese and said, "Did you interview anyone else for this job?" Inferring that she spent too little time vetting Ryan, he said, "How long do you spend buying a new car?" Referring to FOILED emails, he asked Albanese about a dinner she had with Ryan, and said, "Did you discuss the revaluation? .... Did you receive gifts from Ryan?..... In January 2015 you sent an email to Ryan saying that the second revaluation had passed and that you "were in a tizzy." Why were you excited about this extra workload?" He continued his relentless attack, saying "Why were you spying on residents? At a meeting in June you were in the back of the room ... you remained silent."

Michael Levine, a statistician who has spent many hours analyzing the models used for both revaluations asked Ryan if he ran the reports on Village computers or on his own system. Ryan said they were run on his computer and that he had no reports. Levine responded, "I would think it would be standard practice to save the reports," to which Ryan replied, "The proof is in the pudding." Near the conclusion of the meeting, at around 11:15 pm, Levine returned to the mike to question Ryan further. He said, "What bothers me is you are not disclosing the derivation of every aspect of your model. We expected a soup to nuts explanation of the model. Now you are saying you can't reproduce it. You can't explain where the elements of the model come from and how were they mathematically derived. ... Where is the math beyond the coefficients" (You should have said) "Here is the program, here is the program output. All of that should have been documented."

Jane Curley, another expert in modeling who has recently been appointed to the Board of Assessment Review to rule on grievances also questioned Ryan. She said,
"There is an inconsistency between forcing insignificant variables and saying your model is better than Tyler's. Is this square footage model workable across homes from 1500 to 5000 square feet? Did you do an analysis of contributory value of varying factors?"

Curley said that she used updated sales data to test the model and got a PRD of 1.3, demonstrating that lower value homes are over-assessed. (Note: The relative inequity between appraisals of high-dollar and low-dollar property is measured by the price related differential (PRD)). Ryan repeatedly claimed that using the PRD was not "standard practice," but several of the statisticians who spoke, used this to demonstrate flaws in Ryan's model. She continued, "All the lots on Hamilton are valued at 10% more than Nelson. Is this a "traffic adjustment?" Are the people on Hamilton spending $2,500 too much or too little?"

Several speakers, including Norm Bernstein and Howard Weitz called for the Board of Trustees to invalidate or nullify the 2016 revaluation and revert back to 2014 valuations. They suggested that since Ryan had not fulfilled his contract, the reval could be thrown out. In response, Village Attorney Wayne Essanason read a legal opinion he obtained from the state. He explained that the "Town board has no authority to substitute its judgment for the assessors. You can't say because the contract is bad, the assessment is bad. This board has no authority to substitute their judgment for the assessors." He added that residents can bring their grievances to court for a SCARS proceeding or file an article 7 hearing in Supreme Court.

Other speakers failed to understand New York State law and suggested that Scarsdale use another methodology to value properties. Sparing no words, builder Bobby Ben Simon attacked Ryan, saying, "Hiring you was a major mistake. Your entire business is fraud. You are trying to put the real estate market in a box...The only way you can evaluate the real estate market is by the sales ...There is no other method....you are making all kinds of assumptions and throwing it back on the taxpayer. Scarsdale is unique. There is a reason that a half acre costs different amounts on either side of town. You need to base your model on sales like California and Florida."

Ellen Neidig from Black Birch Lane, said, "This was supposed to be an update to address the outliers. This was just supposed to be a tweak. How is it that such a large number of residences changed? Why was this necessary to completely disassemble Tyler's work? The results were completely outside what we had expected."

As the meeting drew to a close, Ron Parlato of Sherbrooke Road, another developer and homeowner who leads the Heathcote Association, where 40 of some of the most expensive homes in Scarsdale are located, said that in the 2014 reval, these homes were over-assessed. He said, "We showed that the smaller lots got a discount." He said "we brought a lawsuit against the Village of Scarsdale and won." He continued, "The town and the board have been victimized by two revals," which brought a round of applause. It was not clear from him comment whether Parlato personally challenged his own appraisal or brought a lawsuit on behalf of the Heathcote Association, so we checked with the Village and learned that the Heathcote Association as a whole had not challenged the village.

Parlato may have hinted at the real explanation of why this second reval was planned just months after the first one was completed. Vociferous claims from Scarsdale's wealthiest residents, including the Heathcote Association, were cited as justification for the redo. The Heathcote Association presented voluminous data and charts which they claimed demonstrated that those on the high end were bearing too much of the tax burden and supporting those in more modest homes. The only way the Board could address this complaint was to conduct a second revaluation, which the Assessor and Ryan billed as a tweak or fine-tuning. However, because Ryan decided to use a new and untested model, this second revaluation resulted in more than a 10% change in valuation for 49% of Scarsdale's homeowners.

At the end of the meeting, the Mayor indicated that no action would be taken by the Board to nullify or rescind the revaluation, but suggested that this board or a future board might appoint a committee of qualified residents to examine the issues and make recommendations for future revaluations in Scarsdale.

Though it appeared that this meeting might bring the discussion to a close, as I left at 11:40 pm I heard residents in the parking lot organizing a lawsuit against the trustees. If that comes to pass, Scarsdale taxpayers will undoubtedly bear the burden of the defense.

Comments are welcome - but please include your name and address.

Clarification from Dorothy Finger

Board-of-directors-duties-Boad-Room-CircleBelow is a follow-up letter from Dorothy Finger concerning her resignation from the Board of Assessment Review:
To the Editor: Although I thought my letter to the Mayor was clear as to what occurred, in order to put an end to the continued speculation please be advised of the following: At the time that I was asked to recuse myself I was not given a reason. I did not question it because I chose not to contradict the judgment of the Mayor and deferred to his wishes. There had been so much discussion and animosity at the recent Board of Trustees meetings that I saw no reason to add any more angst. I believed that discretion was the better part of valor in dealing with these issues and not making more of it when it would serve no purpose. I was not asked to resign at that time and later when the issue of a quorum was raised I was also informed that there was nobody to take my place with the requisite training. When such an individual was found the Mayor requested my resignation and I immediately gave it in the form of the letter which has been published here. It gave my explanation of the situation but that apparently has not been sufficient. I hope that this addendum clarifies what transpired. When I was asked to serve I did so, but if my services were no longer desired then I had no reason not to comply with the request. I believe it is time to close this chapter in Scarsdale history as there is nothing more to be determined and dwelling on these issues is not productive.

Respectfully submitted, Dorothy M. Finger

Economies Proposed to Reduce Cost of Library Renovation

libraryentryProponents of a revamp of the Scarsdale Libray returned to Village Hall on Tuesday July 20 to present a more economical plan for the renovation and enhancement of the facility. In response to concerns about the price tag of the original proposal, the committee worked with their architects, engineers and village staff to identify economies that would not compromise the programmatic goals while reducing the amount of funding needed from the Village.

The plans involve renovations to all the existing interior spaces and expansions around the perimeter to allow the library to be integrated with its park-like setting. Wiring and equipment for state-of-the art technology will be installed to allow users to collaborate, do research and access new media. The entry will become a glass lobby and café where users can chat, relax and enjoy a snack or light meal. The new configuration will include several flexible meeting rooms and small group study rooms. The children's wing and children's program room will be updated and there will be a separate teen room as well. The main reading rooms will be encased in glass allowing users to look out onto library pond. The current reference room will be a quiet reading room with comfortable seating. Those who work from the library will have access to a technology suite with a printer, copier, laminator and other equipment to accommodate hands-on projects.

The original numbers called for the Village to contribute $12 million toward the $20.5 million renovation and expansion. Though the new plans were appealing, some residents feared the additional tax burden resulting from increased debt payments by the Village. At the time, Treasurer Mary Lou McClure said that borrowing $12 million would raise the Village's debt payments by $1 million a year or an average of $150 per household for 15 years.

After discussions with the trustees, the committee went back to work and identified $3 million in modifications to the project, to reduce the Village's share to $8.4 million. The Board hopes that some of these items can be funded at a later date, but believes that the changes will not "gut the project."

A complete list of the reductions and the rationale for each can be found on the Village website, but here is a summary:

One of the larger cost savings is the elimination of the basement under the new portions of the building Instead, the new portions of the building will be constructed on a slab. This will save $348,000. Another $348,000 in savings will be achieved by using less expensive flooring. Landscaping will be cutback, saving $155,000 and the outdoor reading deck will also be eliminated, for a savings of $53,000.

Original plans called for the Scott Room to be flexible space that could be partitioned to accommodate multiple groups or meetings. The reduced plan eliminates the partitions and the need for additional AV equipment, saving $227,000.

The new plan calls for less expensive furniture, shelving units and light fixtures, and also eliminates the furniture for the outdoor deck, saving $340,000.

What else? Reductions for AV equipment will save $299,735, modifications to the acoustic ceiling and architectural woodwork will result in $124,000 in savings and $150,000 will be saved by a redesign of the foundation.

Two environmental features will also be cut from the job including the solar panels on the roof, saving $459,000 and the green roof, for $53,000.

In total, savings add up to $3,009,513 including $391,000 in construction management and administration fees.

To compensate for the loss of space in the basement, 1,800 square feet of space has been added to the main level on the northwest side of the building. Architect Daniel Heuberger from Dattner Architects, called this addition, "more or less of swap of the space," and said decisions would be made down the road about its use. The new library would be 31,000 square feet, plus 1,800 square feet for the additional room.

Therefore, the estimate for the total project has been reduced from $20.5 million to $17.9 million, which includes $700,000 for the temporary library space at Supply Field.

The Library Board has pledged to raise $7.5 million in private funding, and says that many are waiting to make their donations until they know that the Village is on board. The Village will apply to receive $500,000 in grant funding for the temporary library from the NYS Dormitory Authority and also believe that they will save $1.5 million in operating costs while the library is being built.

There was discussion about the amount of funding the Village would need to bond. The Village Treasurer said that the $1.5 million in anticipated operating expense savings could not be considered "revenue." She estimated that if the Village borrowed $10 million for 15 years, total debt service would increase from about $2.8 million a year to $3.5 million a year. This would translate into taxes of $118 per year for 15 years for a household with an assessment of $1.5mm.

Temporary Library at Supply Field

Architect John D'Angelo presented plans to build a temporary library on the second floor of in the building at Supply Field. Village managers examined the use of the Supply Field building vs. the former Body Fit space on Scarsdale Avenue and determined that it made more sense to do modest renovations to the second floor of the Supply Field Building. This way, no rent would be paid, and the renovated space could be used by the Village for another purpose after the library reopens.

D'Angelo explained that the following work would be done:

  • Install heating and air conditioning and insulate the walls
  • Build a circulation desk and create offices for the library's administrative staff
  • Add toilets
  • Build a small children's area, reading area and space for copy machines and office equipment.

The overall cost to renovate the temporary library is estimated to be $700,000.

There are 40 parking spaces at Supply Field, and Library Director Elizabeth Bermel explained that the temporary library would work around field use schedules, and be open when the ball fields are not in use. Program could be held outside and in other village facilities, schools and houses of worship.

At the conclusion of the presentation, Trustee Marc Samwick asked questions about the accuracy of the financial estimates. He said, "What if we get to the end of design development and can't build what we planned; what will we do next?

Heuberger said we "never can tell that we are going to hit it on the money. But between contingencies and deduct alternatives we feel we have enough control over the project." He explained, that if needed, "we could take away the bells and whistles," and "defer items that can't be purchased to a later date." However, he assured Samwick, "you would still have a functioning library."

M.L. Perlman, who serves on the Scarsdale Forum, asked the Board and architects to consider LEED certification and requested that the solar roof be put back into the project. Simon replied, saying that there are environmentally responsible elements of the design, but it will not be LEED certified. She cited better energy conservation, rain gardens, new systems, and energy conserving windows." Heuberger added, "You don't need LEED certification to be a sustainable design. We will meet state energy code and deliver a healthy building that is economical to operate. LEED is not the only path to sustainability."

Concluding a two and a half hour meeting, the trustees thanked the board and Village managers and agreed to continue the discussion. See the proposal here.

Dorothy Finger Explains Her Resignation from the BAR

Board-of-directors-duties-Boad-Room-CircleThis letter was sent to the Mayor and the Board of Trustees by Dorothy Finger, a former member of the Board of Assessment Review.
DOROTHY M. FINGER
27 Sheldrake Road
Scarsdale, NY 10583

July 20, 2016

Dear Mayor Mark and The Board of Trustees of the Village of Scarsdale,

It is with great sadness that I hereby tender my resignation from the Board of Assessment Review. Although I am personally and professionally qualified and believe I made a significant contribution to that board, the events of the last several months, precipitated by the unprofessional conduct of Robert Berg who also sits on the Board and who should also resign, have forced the Mayor into the position of requesting first my recusal from this year's deliberations and now that a replacement has been found, my resignation. I chose not to answer the various critics before this time because I did not want to embarrass others. However, now that ilie matter is being formally resolved I believe it is important to do so

I have lived in Scarsdale for 47 years (one could say my entire adult life) and I have loved Scarsdale all of that time. I raised three children here and they have all chosen to make their homes here. I have six grandchildren in the Scarsdale school system. I guess I am lucky. I have enjoyed my service on many boards and councils, as Chairman at one time of the Scarsdale Democratic 'Committee, and as Trustee myself. Many of my fellow Trustees have since moved from Scarsdale but while I have dedicated myself in recent years to other causes, I have continued to give of my time to continue to serve the community, most recently on the Board of Assessment Review.

With all of that in mind, I need first to reflect on a few broader issues. The Non-Partisan System has, in general, worked well even though I admittedly criticized various aspects over the years and recall that I was in the forefront of a movement to admit women into the Town Club, the repository of the system. I have known most of the "players" in Scarsdale over the years until recently as younger people moved into the community and I became more of a "grandma" and less active in community affairs. I have known Bob Harrison for 40 years, give or take, and never publicly criticized him even though I offered him advice privately and certainly had many opportunities to offer public statements about his conduct. I mention this so that whatever I say here is not misconstrued with regard to Bob Harrison or Bob Berg whom I only met last year while serving on the BAR. I have no personal animosity but with regard to the present issues they have overstepped many lines.

Thus, it is with some historical and personal perspective that I am qualified to comment on recent events and conduct. It is important to discuss the "reval" and the second "reval" in connection with the issue of my resignation. I obviously had nothing to do with either "reval" and last year's Board of Assessment Review process seemed to proceed in an orderly and fair manner. There were times when it was difficult to get a quorum then because members planned vacations and did not attend every meeting. That was the case again this year when Mr. Berg was on vacation, a fact which escaped mention during his recent public comments about scheduling meetings during which I understand I was disparaged. Similarly, there were other Board Members with scheduling issues. The implication that the only reason a recent meeting was rescheduled was my recusal is simply untrue as it was scheduled after my recusal and it was never anticipated that I would attend. Other Board Members, such as Bob Berg were unavailable and that is why there was no quorum. As long as I am resigning the record should be set straight. I would suggest that. in the. future members do not schedule vacations during the period that they will be needed to review grievances.

While I was serving last year, there was a second "reval" being done the results of which came out in time for this year's grievances to be filed. (Meanwhile, Bob Berg has continued his public attacks on the second reval and on me despite never even contacting me to discuss the matter.) I believe that he is entitled to his opinions on this matter but he should not then sit on the BAR which is sitting in judgment on those very cases assessed by the method he has repeatedly impugned. He has an obvious and blatant bias about the whole process and cannot look at individual cases on their merits. In fact, the presumption that BAR members are suppose4 to be guided by is that the assessment is valid until a grievance has been filed in an individual case and a determination made on the appropriate evidence. While we all harbor personal views, Bob Berg's views demonstrate the antithesis of what his perspective should be as a member of the BAR. Admittedly the job of the BAR is more difficult this year given all of the various reviews of the "revaluation" and the analysis by some very bright individuals in the community. However, a BAR member should not be prejudging based on his or her view of the matter which is clearly what has happened.

I harbored no such predisposition about the reval but just as Grievance Day was about to begin the Mayor and Village attorney asked me to recuse myself from this year's proceedings. I believe that this was a result of the pressure being brought by Bob Berg and Bob Harrison. I agreed to do so even though I did not believe it was necessary or required. There was no reason to question my judgment and I had made no comments about the "revaluation" either way. I was impartial. However, since I was asked I agreed to as they asked. I did think they should have asked the same of Bob Berg but as far as I know they did not. When thereafter the BAR did not have a quorum due to Bob Berg's vacation and/or other personal commitments, I was unavailable to serve as I could not undo the recusal which had been requested of me. It was suggested that I "unrecuse" myself so that I could appear and there could be a quorum but not vote on the cases. This was simply untenable if not impossible and would only lead to more confusion and issues. Nonetheless I have observed that Bob Harrison has seen fit to publicly criticize me evidently without knowing the facts and without so much as calling me to ask. A simple phone call after 40 years would have certainly provided him sufficient information to assess the situation accurately. I leave it to others to determine his motivations. The same is true of Bob Berg whose vacation plans were just as responsible for the lack of a quorum.

While I certainly regret the inconvenience caused to residents by these events, I understand that there was nobody to fill my seat on the Board of Assessment Review until now. I suppose it should not be a surprise that no prior member of the Board of Assessment Review was interested in being reappointed, given the tenor of the events and the recent public meetings. In my many years in Scarsdale I have seen most people conduct themselves in a direct yet polite and respectful manner, understanding that we all want what is best for Scarsdale. It is with disappointment that I see recent events and conduct to be substantially less civil at best and with little regard for the consequences or impact on our volunteers who have always been the backbone of Scarsdale. Volunteerism in Scarsdale has been a hallmark of our community but I cannot help but wonder if we continue to treat our neighbors in this way whether we will be able to rely on that spirit in the future. I also must comment that I am most disturbed by our present tendency to respond to those who "scream the loudest" rather than on substance which, I submit, may have changed the entire course of these events.

Respectfully submitted,
Dorothy M. Finger

Residents Press Trustees to Void Revaluation

nelsoroadA boisterous group of residents continued to press Scarsdale Village Trustees to rescind the 2016 revaluation at a protracted meeting of the Board of Trustees on Tuesday night July 12th. Though the critics' assertions were similar to previous meetings, their tone was decidedly angrier. They attacked the Mayor, the Board of Trustees, the Village Assessor, the Village Attorney, John F. Ryan and village managers both professionally and personally.

They questioned the validity of the model and the assumptions behind it, asked who supervised Ryan and argued that he had not met the terms of his agreement. Some pointed to individual trustees and asserted that their taxes had not gone up, while the residents in the audience suffered unfair increases.

The trustees listened respectfully and allowed many to speak far longer than their allotted time. However, they said there was little they could at this point except to let the grievance process take it's course, permitting those who believed their assessments were too high to have their cases considered by the Board of Assessment Review.

In his opening remarks, Mayor Jon Mark referenced a letter from Brice Kirkendall-Rodriguez that was published in the Scarsdale Inquirer and on Scarsdale10583. Mark said, "Characterizations are the opinion of its author." He said, "Detailed criticisms were made to the 2014 reval as well and are made nationwide. The comments received do not change where we are. 2016 is done."

To those who raised concerns about the Village's financial health he said, "Assertions that bond issues will receive less support is a matter of speculation. Moody's reiterated its AAA credit rating and indications are that there is strong demand for the $6.6 million debt refinancing which will be made on Thursday."

Addressing those who questioned the need for this second revaluation, Mark said, "The 2016 reval was initiated in good faith to address perceived inequities in the 2014 reval... Hindsight is 20-20 and here we are." He reiterated his belief in the strength of the non-partisan system and urged those in the audience to participate more regularly.

Robert Berg, who serves on the Board of Assessment Review, (BAR) speaking on his own behalf said, "We are reviewing 1,056 grievances. Calling the burden "overwhelming and unfair," he told trustees that BAR member Dorothy Finger had recused herself from the proceedings but failed to resign, leaving the remaining four members of the BAR with even more work. He said, "Given the crazy workload, we need a replacement as soon as possible." He urged the board to recruit another member and said, "You just keep your head in the sand and hope this will go away."

He also reported that the BAR had thus far granted reductions to 61% of the cases they heard, calling the number of reductions, "unprecedented." He said, "We have already reduced valuations by millions. My guess is that the tax rate will go up significantly. We cannot increase those that are undervalued. This is a terrible state of affairs."

Mayra Kirkendall-Rodriguez spared no one in her remarks. She said, "We are 42 days into this disasterous revaluation. You failed to bring Ryan here. The assessor is not here even though she is supposed to be here. There is no transparency."

She raised concerns about Ryan's firm, his credentials and oversight of the model and the process. She told the Board, "We'll be here every week because we don't trust any of you. Many forgot the trust in trustees. Maybe we should just call you "ees" from now on." She mentioned a possible lawsuit saying, "On the basis of this, as well as the statistical analysis quite a number of quantitative Scarsdalians have presented to you, we believe that courts likely would find that we have met the very minimal burden of proof that is required for an unequal assessment challenge."

Turning to Trustee Carl Finger, she said, "Two weeks ago, you said you were sorry that we are upset. The more you kept talking, I was convinced that you were going to break out a bottle of bourbon and a banjo and sit on a three legged couch to sing a country song about how you feel our pain. Mr. Finger, I am from Texas. I did not like country music then, and I am not about to start liking it now. You do not feel our pain."

Others joined the chorus. Woody Kraut, a former president of the Edgewood Association said, "2014 seemed to be a very professional job while 2016 looked like a superficial job. I think this is a flawed process – I think you should rescind it. You'll be seeing me a lot more."

Jane Curley of Hamilton Road said, "I don't have a sexy job. I look at models all day and see if I can find flaws. I write my own code and see if I can validate models." Holding up a graph she said, "There is a problem at the bottom and the top of this model. ....Not everyone understands this stuff ...It's infuriating that you're saying this is a matter of option."

She then showed another chart and said, "After the Tyler revaluation, all the .012 acre lots on Hamilton and Nelson Roads were valued at $467,000. The 2016 revaluation valued these same lots at $675,000 on Hamilton Road and $575,000 on Nelson Road. This is a sloppy, indefensible job. What will it take before you acknowledge the model is flawed?"

Jordan Copeland added, "The community needs to be heard. It doesn't look like it was fair. My property went up 50% in two years. Something has to be done. I have to pay half the amount to the grievance company. It could be $5,000 to $10,000 out of my pocket. .... You should be able to go to the state and throw this out!"

Kai-Hong Tang of 22 Ridgecrest East said, "You accused us of not participating, but when Bob and others participate it falls on deaf ears ..... You have a problem! Many have pleaded and begged, but why should we participate if you're not listening."

Farley Baker told trustees that he has lived here since 1992 and had a 41% increase in the assessment on his 1,100 square foot home. He said, "There is a lot of anger here. Now I am just disappointed in you guys and in the system I participate in....
Take some responsibility here and find out what happened. I respect all of you. I love this place."

Bob Harrison said, "I have been outspoken. The Village still owes Ryan $40,000 and wants some answers from him."

Trustee Stern replied, "We all have a lot of angst about this. We prepared questions for Ryan and gave them to him. We feel your pain. We are all stakeholders and taxpayers and we are all very upset about what happened. We are handcuffed by the laws of NYS. We are all extraordinarily upset with this situation. If we can find a way to correct it, we will."

Harrison then lost control and started screaming at the Trustees, saying, "Did your assessment go up? You don't have pain. We're talking about pocketbooks and people who want to age in place. I move to void the 2016 revaluation."

Carl Finger attempted to interject to answer Harrison's call to void the reval and said, "If we take an illegal action and the other 4,000 people file a lawsuit against the village it will cost thousands to lose and we will be right back to where we started before."

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