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You are here: Home The Goods Scarsdale Residents File Motion to Intervene in Article 78 Proceeding
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Scarsdale Residents File Motion to Intervene in Article 78 Proceeding

proceedingThough the Village election is over, and some members of the Village Board who came under attack for the 2016 Revaluation are no longer serving Scarsdale, the Article 78 proceeding, filed on January 13, 2017, which demands that the Village void the 2016 revaluation lives on.

In response to the Article 78, the Village of Scarsdale filed a motion to dismiss on February 15 on the basis of a number of procedural issues and that the petitioners failure to prove their claim that properties were overvalued or that the revaluation constituted a waste of or injury to public funds" or that it was illegal, imperiled the public interest or "calculated to work public injury." See more here.

In the intervening weeks, the Scarsdale Committee for Fair Assessments, who filed the Article 78, filed an opposition brief to the motion to dismiss on March 17, and then the Village parried with a reply on March 29.

Now another group of Scarsdale residents has filed their own motion to intervene in the case. Their objection stems from the Article 78 petitioners' claim that they filed their action "on behalf of all other taxpayers in the Town/Village of Scarsdale." This new motion to intervene was filed on April 3, to "correct the false record put forth by the Committee and make clear that "all other taxpayers in the Town/Village of Scarsdale" do not agree that the Committee represents their interests." In fact, the motion says that the intervenors "Object to the Village wasting its time and money defending the Article 78" and also "Object to the prospect of Scarsdale's tax assessment procedure being dictated by a judicial monitor rather than proceeding under the established municipal and state regulatory procedures and administrative remedies that govern residential property tax assessments."

The intervenors, listed below, are represented by Jennifer Barrett, Marc Greenwald and Kevin Reed, three attorneys from Quinn Emanuel Urquhart and Sullivan, who are also Scarsdale residents. They did the work on a pro-bono basis. They represent Andrew and Mary Louise Perlman, Richard K. Abbe, Susan Upton Douglass, Eli R. Mattioli, David M. Matusz, Carole Anne Parlato, Josh Silverman, Seth I. Silverstein, Jill F. Spielberg and Gabrielle Reiffel Wise.

Kevin Reed, one of the attorneys who filed the motion to intervene said, "Our clients filed their motion to intervene in the Article 78 proceeding to make clear to the Court that the self-appointed Scarsdale Committee for Fair Assessments does not represent all Scarsdale taxpayers. If the motion is granted, our clients will advocate to the Court that that the Article 78 proceeding is without merit, that a rollback of the 2016 assessment would cause the Village more harm than good, and that grievances with the results of the 2016 assessment should be pursued on an individual basis through the administrative and judicial mechanisms provided by New York State law."

The motion provides some history to support their claim. Was the Article 78 intended to benefit just the 151 petitioners who signed it or all Scarsdale residents? It quotes a 12/6/16 letter from Mayra Kirkendall-Rodriguez to Scarsdale Neighborhood Association Presidents that seems to indicate that only the signers would benefit. It says, "It is important that you understand the way the process works. Only those residents who join the group that is bringing the action, can receive refunds from the results of a successful Article 78 proceeding.... There is a risk of losing, but there is also upside to winning the Article 78 action."

The background information includes the results of the recent election in Scarsdale Village where the newly formed Scarsdale Voters' Choice Party focused on "the flawed Ryan revaluation" and vowed to pursue the Article 78. Two of their candidates were signers of the Article 78. Since the Scarsdale Voters' Choice Party was soundly defeated, the attorneys posit that the Article 78 does not represent the interests of all homeowners.

The motion to intervene states that New York law gives the local assessor authority to perform valuations and empowers homeowners to grieve any perceived inequities. Furthermore, if the tax valuations were rolled back to 2015 levels, the motion claims that others who saw their taxes go down between 2015 and 2016 would be "prejudiced."

Commenting on the motion to intervene, Attorney Robert Bernstein who represents the Scarsdale Committee for Fair Assessments said, "I don't think the interveners understand or appreciate what the legal proceedings here are about. The Article 78 petition is not a class action filed on behalf of all taxpayers. It is instead a legal proceeding brought by a committee of 152 (now154) individual property owners in the Village of Scarsdale who are seeking to enjoin the Village from levying taxes on all village taxpayers on the basis of a tax assessment roll which intentionally and systematically undervalued Scarsdale's larger homes by valuing them at substantially less than 100% of market value, while Scarsdale's smaller homes were valued at 100% of market value or more. The petition was supported by a statistical analysis which showed exactly that. Such intentional systematic undervaluation violates New York state law and the equal protection rights of Scarsdale taxpayers to property taxation based on a uniform percentage of value across the board. The remedy for a serious violation such as this is not to do nothing and leave things just the way they are, which is what the interveners suggest, but rather to require Scarsdale to use an untainted assessment roll going forward in which all Scarsdale taxpayers, those in large and small homes, pay only their fair share."

The case is in the hands of Judge Bruce E. Tolbert in White Plains.

Have a comment? Please include your first and last name.

Comments   

+3 #9 Josh Frankel 2017-04-17 10:47
Joanne-

The state gave the Tyler reval an equalization rate of 100%, so it's simply not the case that Tyler "under-assessed the total value of Scarsdale real estate." That statement is simply not supported by the facts.

Quoting Joanne Wallenstein:
From all the data I have seen, both the Tyler and Ryan valuations under-assessed the total value of Scarsdale real estate. Therefore, if the Village had stuck with the 2015 valuations, an equalization rate would have been assigned and county taxes would have gone up. This was stated at several meetings at Village Hall.
If you want to comment, and you want your comments published, include your real first and last names.
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-9 #8 Joanne Wallenstein 2017-04-06 17:56
Tough crowd! Just trying to respond to your question about the equalization rate!
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+10 #7 JoanneIsWrong 2017-04-06 17:29
You require name disclosure to publish comments but clearly publish a favorable comment under the pseudonym JoanneIsRight.

So is JoanneLying ?
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+11 #6 Hey Joanne, 2017-04-06 16:15
Why don't you publish an article explaining the built in increase to all residents' County tax as a result of the low village wide valuation? Not allowed by your masters or your own ideology?
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-7 #5 JoanneIsRight 2017-04-06 16:05
The revaluation is not the cause of our county taxes going up. Our county taxes went up because the value of Scarsdale real estate, as determined by NYS, went up relative to other towns in Westchester. In his comments on 9/13, Mayor Mark explained why we would have been given a similar equalization rate even without doing a revaluation:

The state has determined an equalization rate of 89.06 for Scarsdale. The equalization rate is used to distribute school district or county taxes among multiple municipalities. Equalization rates of 100 are granted to municipalities whose aggregated assessed values fall between 95 and 100, and since the new valuation was supposed to bring Scarsdale to full market value the Village should have been at 100. However, using their own calculations, the NYS Office of Real Property Tax Services (ORPTS) determined that Scarsdale's preliminary aggregate taxable value was $10,159,000,000 , while the aggregate of the town's assessment roll as set in the 2016 revaluation only added up to $9,048,000,000. Dividing the town's assessed value by the value determined by ORPTS yields a 89.06 equalization rate.
...
So how did ORPTS come up with the preliminary equalization rate and what does it mean to residents in terms of dollars and cents? The first part of this question requires an understanding of the statistical analysis ORPTS performed. ORPTS has provided the Village with the results of their modeling and their sales ratio study. The Village intends to make that information, as well as the underlying source data that ORPTS provided, available to residents by putting it on line. The technical analysis used by ORPTS will be parsed by the Village staff and interested residents can do so as well. The bottom line is that the preliminary aggregate taxable value calculated by ORPTS is approximately $10,159,000,000 . The aggregate value of real property used by ORPTS taken from information on the Town's tentative assessment roll is approximately $9,048,000,000 (without giving effect to the results of grievances). Dividing that figure by the ORPTS calculated number produces the 89.06 equalization rate.
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One further contextual note: What would have happened with respect to the equalization rate if the Village had not undertaken a revaluation for the 2016 roll? It is likely that the result might have been approximately the same in terms of the equalization rate. Why? If there were no 2016 revaluation, ORPTS would have conducted its 2016 review using the 2015 final Town assessment roll. The 2015 final roll included an LOA of approximately $9,033,000,000 – an amount lower than the LOA resulting from the 2016 revaluation and thus presumably also below the low end of the ORPTS acceptable range of 95 to 105 needed to achieve an equalization rate of 100. If that were the case, ORPTS would have done its own LOA calculation that produced the $10.2 billion figure. At our request, ORPTS calculated a pro forma equalization rate assuming there had not been a 2016 revaluation and came up with a pro forma rate of 89.87. Of course, in preparing the 2016 assessment roll, that $9 billion figure would have been adjusted for new construction and additions. Even so, those sorts of adjustments would not likely have increased the value more than approximately $650 million to get within the lower end of the ORPTS 95 to 105 range that would permit a 100 equalization rate. So it is reasonable to note that even without the 2016 revaluation, the ORPTS equalization rate would have been close to the rate ORPTS has calculated.
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-9 #4 Joanne Wallenstein 2017-04-06 14:49
From all the data I have seen, both the Tyler and Ryan valuations under-assessed the total value of Scarsdale real estate. Therefore, if the Village had stuck with the 2015 valuations, an equalization rate would have been assigned and county taxes would have gone up. This was stated at several meetings at Village Hall.
If you want to comment, and you want your comments published, include your real first and last names.
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+10 #3 RSmith 2017-04-06 06:57
Not everyone's couty taxes increased. 4,000 households had their taxes increase. About 1,200 households had thier taxes stay flat or decrease. (quote name="Frank A."]How about the fact that ALL of our County taxes went up 10%!!!!
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+20 #2 Jill D. 2017-04-05 09:39
7 out of the ten intervening residents had their assessments decrease from as low as half a percent all the way to almost 19%. The other three had their assessments rise 5,8, and 10%.
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+12 #1 Frank A. 2017-04-05 07:12
How about the fact that ALL of our County taxes went up 10%!!!!
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