Assessor

Pamela Cook, Assessor
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Office Hours: Friday, 8:15 am – 12:15 pm
(518) 325-5073 ext. 8

Scroll  down for 2019 STAR EXEMPTION CHANGES

Forms:

Tax Exemption Forms

STAR Program School Tax Relief

County Treasurer’s Office

Links:

Columbia County Assessment Rolls

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Who is the Assessor?

The assessor is a local government official who estimates the value of real property within a city, town, or village’s boundaries. This value is converted into an assessment, which is just one component in the computation of real property tax bills.

What Does an Assessor Do?

The assessor is obligated by New York State law to maintain assessments at a uniform percentage of market value each year. The assessor signs an oath to this effect when certifying the assessment roll — the document containing each property assessment. The physical description (or inventory) and value estimate of every parcel is required to be kept current.  In order to maintain a uniform roll, each year your assessor will need to analyze all of the properties in the municipality to determine which assessments, if any, need to be changed.

Where assessments need to be changed, in some cases, your assessor will be able to increase or decrease the assessments of a neighborhood or group of properties by applying real estate market trends from the town’s property sales to those properties. This is possible only when the assessments to be changed are at a uniform level other than the municipality’s stated level of assessment. In other cases, the assessor will need to conduct physical re-inspections for reappraisals of properties.

The assessment roll shows all of the town’s assessments and exemptions and is available for public inspection any time at the Town Hall during normal business hours.

What Kind of Property is Assessed?

All real property, commonly known as real estate, is assessed. Real property is defined as land and any permanent structures attached to it. Some examples of real property are houses, gas stations, office buildings, vacant land, motels, shopping centers, farms, apartment buildings, restaurants, and mobile homes.

How is Real Property Assessed?

Before assessing any parcel of property, the assessor estimates its market value. Market value is how much a property would sell for, in an open market, under normal conditions. To estimate market values, the assessor must be familiar with all aspects of the local real estate market.

A property’s value can be estimated in three different ways. First, property is compared to others similar to it that have sold recently, using only sales where the buyer and seller both acted without undue pressure. This is the most common method used.  It is called the market approach and is normally used to value residential, vacant, and farm properties.

The second way is to calculate the cost, using today’s labor and material prices, to replace the structure with a similar one. If the structure is not new, the assessor determines the depreciation since it was built. The resulting value is added to an estimate of the market value of the land. This method, called the cost approach, is used to value special purpose and utility properties.

The third way is to analyze how much income a property (like an apartment building, store, or factory) will produce if rented. Operating expenses, insurance, maintenance costs, financing terms, and how much money expected to be earned are considered. This method is called the income approach.

Once the assessor estimates the market value of a property, its assessment is calculated. New York State law provides that all property within a municipality be assessed at a uniform percent of market value. The level of assessment can be five percent, 20 percent, 50 percent, or any other fraction, up to 100 percent. Everyone pays his or her fair share of taxes as long as every property in a locality is assessed at the same percent of value. For example, a house with a market value of $100,000 located in a town that assesses at 15 percent of value would have an assessment of $15,000. The assessment is multiplied by the tax rate for each taxing jurisdiction – city, town, village, school district, etc. – to determine the tax bills.  Tax rates are determined by each school district, county and town through the budget process.

What Else Does an Assessor Do?

The assessor performs many other administrative functions, such as inspecting new construction and major improvements to existing structures. The recording of deeds and property transfers into trusts, life estates and other legal instruments are also part of the function of the assessor’s office.  This ensures that the record of each property’s physical inventory as well as owner is current and that the appropriate improvements are assessed.

The town of Hillsdale currently has 1,653 parcels, valued at $497,728,058 of which 1,598 are taxable.  The remaining parcels include utilities, various tax exempt parcels, such as churches, State of NY and Town of Hillsdale properties, and cemeteries.  Did you know Hillsdale has 10 cemeteries?

The assessor also approves and keeps track of property tax exemptions. ** Among the most common are the senior citizen, school tax relief (STAR), veterans, forest and agricultural.**

Where Can I Go With Questions?

The assessor is continually communicating with the public, answering questions, and dealing with concerns raised by taxpayers.  Informal meetings with your assessor to help answer your assessment questions can take place at any time throughout the year.  It is up to individual property owners to monitor their own assessments.

Assessors are interested only in fairly assessing property in their assessing unit. If your assessment is correct and your tax bill still seems too high, the assessor cannot change that. Complaints to the assessor must be about how property is assessed and not the amount of taxes. Taxpayers unhappy with growing property tax bills should also examine the scope of budgets and expenditures of the taxing jurisdictions (counties, cities, towns, villages, school districts, etc.) and address those issues in the appropriate and available public forums.

2019 STAR EXEMPTION CHANGES

Enhanced Star Exemption

To receive the Enhanced Star exemption, you are now required to enroll in the Income verification program (IVP). You only need to enroll once and you will receive the exemption automatically, if eligible, each year thereafter.

In this first year (2019), your income will need to be verified by the assessor, but in subsequent years, it will be verified by the NYS Tax Department. This means you cannot miss the deadline for filing and you will no longer need to provide your income tax returns to the assessor.   NYS will contact you directly if anything is required.

If you are already enrolled in the IVP program, you do not need to do anything. No forms or renewals are required. If you received the enhanced star last year, and are not enrolled in the IVP program, you will receive a renewal form and the IVP application in the mail from me.

If you are a new homeowner or first time STAR applicant, you must register for the STAR credit directly with the NYS Tax Department at www.tax.ny.gov.

STAR information and forms can be found www.tax.ny.gov/pit/property/star/ivp.htm or contact me.

Senior Citizen Exemption

In the past, senior citizens, who qualified for the senior citizen exemption, were automatically granted the enhanced STAR exemption.

Due to changes in New York State law, beginning with applications for 2019, seniors must apply separately for both the senior citizen exemption and the enhanced STAR exemption. If you received the senior exemption last year, you will receive a renewal application along with the other required forms in the mail from me.

The deadline for filing all applications for all exemptions is March 1.

You can obtain forms by contacting me, or you can download application forms for both the enhanced star and senior citizen exemptions from the NYS tax department at www.tax.ny.gov/forms/orpts_cur_forms.htm.

Pamela Cook, Assessor

ASSESSMENT CALENDAR

March 1          Exemption filing deadlines
March 1          Taxable Status Date
May 1              Tentative roll is filed
May 30           Grievance day
July 1              Final Roll and Valuation Day
September 1  School bills sent
January 1       Town/County/special district bills sent