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Department of Taxation and Finance

RPTAC Minutes October 24, 2013


Real Property Tax Administration Committee

Minutes: October 24, 2013

Location: Syracuse (Onondaga County)

In Attendance


  • Robert Criddle
  • Patrick Duffy
  • Dennis Ketcham
  • Denise Trudell
  • Todd Wiley

County Directors

  • Dawn Allen
  • Jay Franklin
  • Steve Harris
  • Tim Murphy
  • Paul Warneck


  • Teresa Frank
  • Joe Gerberg
  • Pat Holland
  • Tim Maher

Facilitator: Alan Kresge

Recorder: Jim McGovern

Get Organized

Minutes of the previous meeting were approved.

Action Items

#11 Is on the agenda

#12 User should be on RPS 2012 patch 15.25 to implement the STAR Offset

#13 Mike Griffen clarified through email that unique pad numbers are not always in place and that there is no easy fix for this.

#14 Waiting for IT support.

#15 SQL code was sent out in August.

#16 This will be discussed during Sub Group activity.

#17 Pat Holland provided examples.  Please see the handout.

Legislative Updates

Joe Gerberg updated the committee on various pieces of real property tax related legislation.  Please see the handout. 

Updates were heard on the Sandy Assessment Relief law, the 2% Agricultural Assessment cap, Green Buildings, telecommunications assessment ceilings, the Alternative Veterans exemption school tax amendment and StartUp NY.

A discussion followed on StartUp NY, much of it centered on whether new construction is eligible for the program.  Jay Franklin stated that even though it has been expressed that only existing buildings are eligible, Cornell is advertising building new spaces for companies to be involved in this program.  Joe will get clarification on the issue of new construction being eligible for StartUp NY. (Action Item #18).    Paul asked if ORPTS will be certifying companies for involvement in StartUp NY.  Joe responded that ORPTS has no role in that.

Pat Duffy asked if veterans organizations can rent out part of their building and remain eligible for exemption.  Joe responded that the law does seem to allow for that. 

Legislative Veto Section 324

Todd Wiley raised the issue that Assessors would like to know the contents of the Agency's comments to the Governor on this bill. 

Joe responded that ORPTS operates under restrictions.  Such comments are considered confidential and the Agency is not at liberty to release them.  He further explained that comments are often included on the bill jacket and when these are sent to the State Archives they become public information. 

Todd asked how long that process may take and would ORPTS be willing to discuss the comments at that time?  Joe responded that the process often takes more than a year and that ORPTS would be willing to discuss it when it becomes public information.

STAR Registration

Tim handed out a map to show registrations across the State.  1.5 million exemptions have so far been registered.  Downstate is lagging, but they were also the last to receive letters.

More outreach is planned including more mailings and more than two hundred public meetings organized by the regional offices.

He reported that in early March, the Assessment Community will have the removal lists.   It was asked if Assessors are allowed to reinstate exemptions and Tim responded no.  Taxpayers are instructed in their removal letter to contact DTF.

Paul Warneck raised the issue of a State takeover of STAR since they were already 80% of the way toward this.  A discussion followed on this possibility.  Concerns were that STAR is a lot of work for local Assessor's Offices and whether ORPTS actually has the capability to administer the program fully.  Tim advised that any such change would require legislation

The question of the delay in co-op apartment and mobile home registration letters was raised and Tim responded that currently, all letters have now been sent to taxpayers.

Todd Wiley asked if Assessors would be receiving the individual reasons for each property owner's denial.  County Directors agreed that this would be a great help.  A discussion followed in which Assessors and County Directors advocated for receiving the reasons.  They expressed that having the reasons will assist in STAR and other exemption administration.  Tim responded that ORPTS has not researched the legality and will have to discuss internally.

Steve Harris asked to present several points that County Directors had put together.   First, he asked about the process for removing STAR after the school tax levy and Joe responded that the normal tax bill correction of errors process would be followed.  It was also asked how the six year disqualification will be tracked.  Joe suggested that possibly a database could be built for such purpose.

Several other of Steve's questions will require further internal discussion at ORPTS.   What happens when Assessor does not remove an exemption?  If a married couple is not "legally" separated, who gets the STAR exemption?  And can a line be added to form RP-425 asking to list other exemptions received?

Paul asked if the SQL files to be received for the exemption removals will be separate or in a county-wide file.  Tim responded that he will have to check.

Assessors asked how long until procedures for handling corrections and appeals are in place.  Tim replied that it will be a few months and that there will be an update at the next meeting.

Steve asked if the deadline for registration is December 31 or April 1.  Joe responded that the deadline is December 31 and that is the date that begins the one year time limit on appeals.

It was also asked if there is a time limit on restoration of the exemption if the owner is found to actually be eligible.  Joe responded that the limit is three years.

STAR Offset

Tim reported that three thousand exemptions have been removed resulting in two million dollars being used to offset tax liabilities.

He also reported that this year the timing has been adjusted to get the offset lists out by June 1

RPS V5- The Next Generation

Pat Holland reported that options for V5 are still being reviewed. 

There was discussion over the involvement of RPS Governance and who will make the final decision.  Concern was expressed that V5 will only be what DTF wants.  It was suggested that RPS Governance should hear options from vendors so that it would be in a better position to help with decisions.  RPS Governance will be involved more in the V5 process.  (Action Item #19)

Paul raised the issue that ITS is reporting that V5 is not included on the 2014 work plan.  There is concern because many municipalities are waiting on projects until they see what V5 brings.  It was responded that ORPTS has no knowledge of V5 not being included in 2014 plans.

5217 Bar Code Project

Pat Holland reported that, as of the end of June, thirty six counties are now accepting the new RP-5217-pdf form.  Six more counties are getting signed up and six other counties are currently accepting the one part form and sending it in to ORPTS.

Sub-Group Activity Updates

  • - Valuation Issues/Property Class

Pat Duffy reported that the group is still working on updating the manual.    RPTAC members will be receiving a marked up copy.  The group has not met since April.

  • - Sales Processing

                The group has not met recently.

  • - Equalization

                The group has not met recently

All sub groups need names for their new membership.  (Action Item #20)

 Opinions of Counsel

Joe Gerberg reported that due to lack of staff, Opinions of Counsel have been suspended.    To continue providing answers to the Assessment Community as a whole, a new process will be instituted.  When a question of general interest is posed, the answer will be posted online on the DTF website in the Recently Asked Questions part of the ORPTS Legal Information section.

Paul asked if ORPTS had any input on the Attorney General's comments on the denial of the Veterans exemption to recent veterans.  Joe responded that ORPTS did not have input on that statement.

There was then a discussion on the proper identification of combat zones and service medals that are eligible.  It was expressed that the Assessor's Guide is not clear and that outside sources have to be used sometimes.  Joe responded that the Assessor's Guide would have to be examined.

Reassessment RFP

Theresa reported that the team consists of two assessors, two county directors, and three ORPTS personnel.    She asked if there had been any feedback and Bob Criddle responded that GAR Associates had submitted a thirteen page recommendation.  Theresa stated that comments are still welcome.


Next Meeting

Next meeting will be February in Albany.  Possibly the sixth, but the date is to be determined

Future Topics

  • RPS V5 Assessor wish lists
  • STAR Registration procedures after 12/31 and removal list reasons