RPTAC Minutes June 19 - 20, 2014
Real Property Tax Administration Committee
Minutes: June 19-20, 2014
Location: Colonie (Albany County)
- Cathy Conklin
- Patrick Duffy
- Paul Smith
- Robert Criddle
- Dennis Ketcham
- Todd Wiley
- Curt Schoeberl
- Sue Otis
- Dawn Allen
- Jay Franklin
- Steve Harris
- John McCarey
- Tim Murphy
- Paul Warneck
- Teresa Frank
- Joe Gerberg
- Pat Holland
- Tim Maher
- Susan Savage
Facilitator: Alan Kresge
Recorder: James McGovern
Also in attendance: Phil Hembdt (6/19), Paul Miller (6/20), Tobias Lake (6/20), Kent Gebert (6/20)
Minutes of the previous meeting were approved. Only change was to add Paul Smith to the attendee list.
Joe Gerberg has sent an email out on the issue of Start Up NY eligibility for new construction
Subgroup member names need to be submitted
Susan Savage updated the committee on ORPTS matters. RPS V5 has gone to RFP stage and this is a huge accomplishment to get to this point. ORPTS has been working hard on the provisions for the property tax freeze contained in the State budget. The Southern Region office move from Newburgh to White Plains has been completed. Telecommuting options have been extended to CRMs to help displaced personnel remain close to both municipalities and their workplace.
Pat Holland updated the group on the status of the V5 project. The RFP for the project was issued May 7th with the addition of a recent amendment. It is now in a restricted period and all questions must be submitted to Fiscal.
A timetable for the RFP process was given.
- June 23- 1st round of questions
- July 8 - Pre bids
- July and August - 2nd round of questions
- Aug 18- Bids due
- Sept 18- Award
Paul Warneck asked when would RPTAC be consulted and Pat replied that this was already done through the comments process prior to RFP. The RFP and amendments are available online. Paul asked if once bids were returned, could discussions with members take place. Pat will check on what are the restrictions once bids have been submitted. Joe Gerberg stated that he is not familiar with procurement procedures, but if ORPTS can have conversations, it will.
There was then a discussion on how the award decision will be made. Pat stated that the decision will be made by OITS, Fiscal, ORPTS and Counsel. Assessors and County Directors brought up that they believe end users should be involved in that decision. Pat replied that the bid review process is a large time commitment and could end users make that commitment. Paul Warneck asked if a memo could be sent on the committee's role in the bid review. Susan replied that ORPTS will find out.
Todd Wiley raised the subject that the RFP provides for 3000 users. Will this be enough to enable full usage by locals? And will there be provisions to increase during period of necessary heavy activity? Pat replied that currently RPS has licenses for 3000 concurrent users and that the RFP contains provisions for stress testing to ensure usability.
The issue of whether ORPTS can provide training was raised. Pat stated that we do not yet know what provisions for training will be in the submitted bids. Susan added that it doesn't make sense for ORPTS to not make sure there is training for the new RPS.
Property Tax Freeze
Tim Maher presented and answered questions on the property tax freeze initiative contained in the 2014 State budget. This initiative freezes taxes for STAR-eligible residents of taxing districts where the property tax cap is restricted. Property owners will receive checks for the greater amount of the difference from last year's tax bill to this year's or the inflation factor (which is currently 1.46%). Mobile home park residents will receive checks for 25% of the local amount, while co-op owners will receive 60% of the amount. If there is a decrease in taxes, the inflation factor is used.
The property tax freeze program is a two year program beginning with 2014 school tax bills and ending with 2016 general property tax bills. Each taxing district's freeze eligibility is calculated independently of others and has no effect on the eligibility of other local districts. Any taxing district that is subject to the tax cap, is eligible for the freeze provisions. In the case of special districts, only ad valorem districts are involved.
Eligibility for the first year requires that taxing districts meet their tax cap. In addition to that requirement, second year eligibility requires that an efficiency plan is submitted to OSC. These plans are due to OSC by June 1, 2015. Further details on this requirement will be forthcoming.
Curt Schoeberl asked that if this is intended to reduce residential tax bills, what about large land tracts and mobile home park residents that don't pay taxes. Tim responded that STAR eligibility is a requirement so only the residential portion of large parcels is eligible. The mobile home park freeze check proportion is statutory and not based on tax payments.
Tim Murphy asked about the effect of the of the new school portion of the alt vets exemption on the levy calculation. Joe Gerberg responded that exemption have no effect on the levy. Jay Franklin inquired about a possible change to the 2% STAR limitation. Tim responded that there is no change to the maximum STAR calculation due to the freeze.
There was a discussion where Assessors inquired about the information that would be distributed by ORPTS. Tim and Pat responded that ORPTS will be distributing informational palm cards and setting up a special telephone number solely for freeze questions. The check mailing will also contain information on the program. There will be notice to locals when checks are issued.
Pat Duffy asked if a cost-benefit analysis had been undertaken. Susan responded that postage is the real cost. Other involved costs already existed.
Tim Maher provided an informational handout on the STAR Registration program. He reported that 2.4 million of 2.7 million (89%) exemptions registered. 25,000 exemptions were denied based on residency and/or income. There are savings up to $100 million going forward.
New legislation allows direct payment of refunds by DTF to those who fail to register and then realize their mistake after receiving tax bills. Paul Warneck suggested that maybe the State should simply take over STAR and asked if ORPTS would oppose. Susan responded that ORPTS would not oppose such a suggestion.
There was then a discussion on the status of updated STAR lists. One went out today and there will be one more update in July. Cathy Conklin asked what could be done with the list in July. Tim responded that the law says that whoever has custody of the roll may update it.
Todd Wiley raised the subject of residency denials. What are the ramifications if a resident provides me proof they should not have been denied on residency? Tim responded that the resident will have to reapply for STAR and then recertify through registration. Curt Schoeberl asked if the residency denial for STAR was enough to deny a Veterans exemption. Joe Gerberg responded that the denial does not compel action on any other exemption, but it is an opportunity for an Assessor to investigate if they deem it proper.
Tim provided another handout of a draft of an updated STAR form that asks for information on non-owner spouses. Robert Criddle noted that the changes help and asked if feedback could be provided at a later time. Tim responded that it could, but please within the week. Todd Wiley added that it would be beneficial to see the same change to other exemption forms, such as the vets, senior, and disability exemptions.
Fiber Optic Cable/Correction of Errors
Joe Gerberg informed the members that a NYC court case has ruled that fiber optic cable on private property is personal property and not taxable. Legal has issued a notice that the decision will be appealed. However, this brings up the question of refunds and correction of errors. Utility companies may use unlawful entry as their reason to be able to use correction of errors for refunds on past assessments of fiber optic cable. Phil Hembt then presented on an Essex County case. Essex County denied refunds through correction of errors and the court ruled that the refund requests were not timely to be eligible. Curt Schoeberl stated that utility companies have not previously reported fiber optic. He asked what happens if they now claim that part of their assessment is fiber optic and therefore not taxable and subject to refund? Joe responded that the burden of proof to show overassessment is on the property owner. He also noted that the court had applied the statute of limitation regarding correction of errors.
RFP for Reassessment
Theresa Frank asked if this informational topic could be added.
The RFP for reassessment was drafted and then subject to comments. It is now available on the website.
Electronic 5217 Update
There was discussion on the fact that on the previous 5217 #7 had check boxes for the option, but the new version has a dropdown box. This causes the hard copy not to have the choices visible. Can this be adjusted so that the choices can be seen?
Pat Holland said that this possibility will be discussed with staff.
Joe Gerberg informed the group of the Non Profit Revitalization Act of 2013. This was enacted to ease compliance and oversight of nonprofits. There were previously four types of nonprofit. This has been reduced to two-charitable and non-charitable. There does not appear to be any effect on real property.
School District Veterans Exemption-RPS Update
Todd Wiley began the subject by asking what to do if you sign a tentative roll that does not contain the new alt vets school exemptions because the RPS update was not available by May 1. Joe Gerberg advised that the law does not adequately cover this situation. Tim replied that this was a unique situation and that ORPTS had advised that Assessors note the absence and then make the change when the patch became available.
Curt Schoeberl asked why there was no official guidance from ORPTS on this subject. Tim and Joe replied that ORPTS did provide advice on the subject, but an official legal answer would have been more complicated and required more effort on the part of locals.
Assessors and County Directors suggested that ORPTS should advocate for legislation to clarify this subject and allow changes to the tentative roll. ORPTS responded that such legislation is better suggested directly to legislators by assessor organizations. They are not subject to the same bureaucracy and timetables that State agencies are in the legislative process.
Todd Wiley asked that this topic could be added
Todd stated that there is concern that there has been a change in ORPTS status regarding advisory appraisal requests. Tim Maher responded that there has been no change
Assessors discussed that there is a belief that ORPTS, due to staff reduction, no longer has enough qualified appraisers to properly do these appraisals. What is being done to replenish appraisal staff and foresters? Susan responded that ORPTS has enough qualified and experienced staff and has appraisers to handle many types of property. ORPTS is recruiting to replace forester staff.
There were no Equalization Team issues
Valuation Team informed that Tony Illacqua was not returning phone calls. ORPTS advised that Tony is now retired.
Property Class Team advised that there are no issues.
Susan Savage informed the group that the Senate had confirmed two new State Board members. They are Judith Dagastro from Schenectady and Eugenio Martinez from NYC.
Joe advised the group on recent legislation. The budget included the property tax freeze, direct pay for late STAR Registration refunds and ESTAR widow/widower income year change. There was also a NYC circuit breaker and oil and gas fee extender. An agricultural assessment bill would allow forest land used for grazing land to be considered used in production.
Paul Miller informed the group on the current legislative session. He advised that there are more single jurisdiction bills now. These are popular because they meet little resistance.
Paul updated on a number of bills that will soon go before the Governor including:
- 581-a Correction of Errors
- Green Buildings
- Nuclear Power Generating Facility extender
- STAR Farm LLC eligibility
- Solar and Wind extender
- Land Banks
- Veterans eligibility criteria list
Cathy Conklin asked that this topic be added
There has been much news regarding the fact that homeowners are within their rights to refuse interior inspections. Are they still part of State best practices? Tim Maher responded that they are still a best practice.
Next meeting will be October 23rd at Vernon Downs