Sweden Town Board respects residents’ assessment concerns
Reassessments are never popular and they are even more unpopular when they occur during a previously unimaginable pandemic. Many residents have questioned why the Town is continuing with the reassessment process instead of rescheduling it for next year.
We believe that residents want us to make the most responsible decision. Residents want us to look at not what is the easiest thing to do today, but what will be the best decision for all of us for today and tomorrow and next year. Kicking the assessment can down the road will not make things better for us collectively, as Sweden taxpayers. It will make things worse. How?
New York State says that Sweden’s sales statistics show that our residential assessments are only at about 89% of our true taxable value, and that we must bring that number up to 100%. If we do not comply with New York State’s analysis, NYS will assign an equalization rate that is unfavorable to all of us. If that happens, Sweden taxpayers will pick up a disproportionate share of property taxes across multi-jurisdictional taxing districts, namely Monroe County and the Brockport Central School District. We believe we have a duty to make sure that Sweden does not pick up a bigger share of county and school taxes than is equitable. And that is what an equalization rate does – it shifts some of the tax burden to towns that do not keep their rolls current.
In addition, Sweden property taxes are offset by sales tax and mortgage tax revenues. If Sweden is assigned an equalization rate, we will not receive our “fair share” of sales and mortgage tax. That is our money, as Sweden taxpayers – it should not go to taxpayers in Perinton and Pittsford and Brighton; it should come back here.
Furthermore, residents with exemptions, most notably veterans and farmers, will lose a portion of their exemption if Sweden is assigned an equalization rate. If we believe that veterans and farmers are deserving of property tax consideration, do we not have a duty to protect that consideration instead of allowing NYS to diminish it?
Finally, please remember that the reassessment decision does not mean that the Town is raising the tax levy – the actual amount of taxes Sweden collects. The Town Board finalizes it budget in the fall, and we have no plans to exceed the typical increase, which is about 2%. As such, most residents will see a small, typical increase in actual taxes, unless there was a significant improvement to their property which raised its value.
As a Town Board we do not have any influence over your individual property assessment. Assessors in New York State are appointed to six-year terms to eliminate influence from Town Boards. However, we encourage you, in fact we support you, in your decision to meet with the Sweden Assessor to learn about your new assessment and to challenge it if you so choose.
Challenging your assessment is your right and one that we will defend just as strongly as we are defending Sweden’s position regarding an equalization rate. We want no one in Sweden to be assessed more than what is equitable and we want our Town as a whole to be treated equitably across taxing jurisdictions. That is the responsible position for your Town Board to take… for today and for next year.
Supervisor Kevin G. Johnson Deputy Supervisor Robert Muesebeck
Councilperson Patricia Hayles Councilperson Randall Hoke
Councilperson Rhonda Humby