During the month of March all preliminary Assessment Disclosure Notices were mailed and informal meetings were held. If you did not receive a notice, it may be lost or your address may need to be updated. Please email me if you have not received the notice. If you were unable to schedule a meeting, I’m still available on a limited basis on Thursday mornings and certainly by email. No decisions are made at any meeting, but all information that you supplied is reviewed and you will be notified by mail, around May 1, of the results.

The change in all property assessments are a result of one or more of the following:

1. The town is required to conduct a systematic reassessment to maintain a uniformity of 100% of value, requiring a physical inspection and re-assessment of all properties.

2. Land subdivisions, new construction or demolition by permit.

3. Changes found by the data collector not reviewed by the building department through a permit and not contained in the town inventory. An example might be a new deck or generator. Both require a permit.

4. The last reassessment was done 12 years ago.

Comparable home and land sales together with NYS Tax Department costs were used and all properties were visually inspected as required by NYS Real Property Tax Law. Land parcel classifications were standardized according to the Town of Austerlitz zoning rules. A separate lot next to a dwelling is still a separate, saleable lot, not an extension of a dwelling. While this may have resulted in a few dramatic changes upward, the changes may also be a result of a prior under-assessment from many years ago. What this does achieve is a fair and equitable assessment roll.

Taxes are a zero sum game - what one property owner doesn't pay will be picked up by someone else. So, if some properties or one neighborhood is significantly under assessed, not only are they paying too little in taxes, but other property owners are subsidizing that taxpayer's or neighborhood's share of the bill. Taxes are determined by the levy or budget of each jurisdiction divided by the total taxable assessed value (per thousand) thus equaling the tax rate. Taxing jurisdictions determine the taxes to be raised. (The budgets of School, County, Town, Special Districts).

I want to thank all of the Austerlitz property owners who graciously allowed the Columbia County data collectors or me to enter their properties, take pictures and review or measure the structures found there. It is their patience and help in this arduous, long process that has helped the Town of Austerlitz achieve a fair and equitable town assessment roll once again.

Pamela Cook
Austerlitz Assessor