I represented five town of Manlius
tax payers for last years property tax BAR and SCAR hearings. I
secured reductions in 5 out of 6 cases. I wanted to make the town
board aware of the disingenuous, abusive and unprofessional behavior
of your Assessor I observed in those cases.
The job of the Assessor is the equitable
distribution of tax burden, though it is clear he could care less
about it. He has not responded to FOIL requests properly and is
subjecting the town to risk of lawsuits as a result. He is rude
and dismissive to taxpayers. He doesn't return phone calls. He doesn't
seem to realize that taxpayers are customers and should be treated
as such. He has developed a checklist of technicalities to try to
have SCAR cases dismissed forcing the tax payers to take their case
to State Supreme Court. As an example...One of my clients was in
his 70s.....and your Assessor tried to get his case dismissed because
his petition reached the County Clerk one day late during a pandemic.
He should be fired for that alone. That's no way to treat a tax
payer who has paid his taxes for 30 plus years. SCAR is a State
program designed to give people an inexpensive appeal process that
doesn't require a lawyer. Well, if a taxpayer has a hearing with
your Assessor....they better have a lawyer or someone like me or
their case will likely be dismissed. It is just plain wrong.
The state pays hearing officers $75
to handle the case. The Assessor tries to have the cases dismissed
for petty reasons such as sending copies of petitions to the wrong
address, etc. Forcing people to hire a lawyer. If they do they incur
that cost but also the town has to pay their lawyer.....but far
more than that the State judge is paid over $200,000 a year, the
judges clerk typically makes $150k or more, Paralegal, $75k or more,
stenographer $75k or more...Bailiff $75k plus cost of the courtroom,
etc. etc. This means a case that could have cost $75 costs $10,000
to $20,000....or more...and can take years. Tying up courts that
are already backlogged. In many cases Supreme Court Judges have
little experience in real estate valuation. Whereas a SCAR hearing
officer is there because they do have real estate valuation experience.
This behavior has to stop. Your Assessor needs to be retrained or
I have conducted hearings with dozens
of Assessors. Yours is in the top 3 of the most abusive I have observed.
I recognize he has ~ 14,000 to value. It is a difficult job. He
needs to be a professional and do it properly. Treat taxpayers like
customers. If he does......there will be no reason for me to represent
people in your town. Tax season is coming up. If he continues to
abuse people.....I'll be there to stop him. If he continues his
practice of using technicalities to force dismissals sending people
to Supreme Court.....and the town board and Supervisor condone the
behavior......... I suggest the town put more money in their budget
for legal fees.