Does Pawling need a town wide re-assessment?

Will it lower taxes?



The issue of a Pawling town wide re-assessment has been a topic our membership has asked about again and again.  It was also mentioned by one of our town's elected officials in a Town Board meeting on June 10th, 2015.  In that meeting the official said he "would be investigating developing an RFP for a Re Val of the entire Town of Pawling".  In that same meeting another Town Board member spoke up and insisted we needed at least one if not a series of public information meetings about this.  No such meeting has happened and no further information has been made available to the public.  For these reasons we think it is important and timely to clarify a few things for everyone.


First, if you didn't know, Pawling has not done a full re-assessment since 1986 . . .  29 years ago.  Most towns in Dutchess County have done a full re-assessment more recently.  Every town must update its assessment roll on an annual basis but a full re-assessment is a much more comprehensive exercise that ensures that each property pays neither more nor less in property tax than is fair and equitable.


However, we must point out that any full re-assessment that is done in Pawling MUST be done fairly and thoroughly and is best undertaken by a specialist third party firm properly equipped to evaluate each property in a complete and impartial manner.  Using a specialist professional firm, and there are several to choose from, ensures thorough, objective, equitable and timely re-assessment results.  We strongly urge that the right firm be chosen and it is up to us to attend Town Board meetings and raise questions on how this selection process is unfolding. 


A full re-assessment is a complex affair involving the need to check the details of every property in town.  At its most comprehensive this involves visiting each property to ascertain that what is on the ground accords with what is in the records.  At its least comprehensive it could involve just a sampling of properties selected as representative of a particular area or type of property without the necessity of a physical inspection.  There are a number of alternative methodologies between these two extremes, all of which have potentially differing outcomes in terms of ensuring the overall fairness of the exercise. Whatever re-assessment method is chosen it will cost money and it will take time.  It may cost between $250,000 and $500,000 (or more) and it could take two years to be done thoroughly.  Getting it done properly and in a fair and impartial way is paramount to making sure everyone pays their fair share of the tax burden. 


One of the most common mis-conceptions people have about a town wide re-assessment is the belief that such an effort will reduce the overall burden of taxation on the people of Pawling.  That will not occur and, while a full re-assessment is reasonable and needed, some will see their tax bills decrease while others will see theirs increase.  More importantly, the overall amount of taxes collected will likely remain unchanged and the fundamental issues will remain unsolved.  The only way to reduce the overall tax burden on the people of Pawling is to reduce spending, cut expenses, eliminate redundant positions, and freeze capital projects.  


At our primary objective is to reduce the tax burden for everyone. Let's focus on the future and encourage our town leaders to make the urgent decisions required to reduce the total tax burden on the people and businesses in Pawling.  We need to reduce those taxes fast to turn our real estate market around and make Pawling an attractive town where young families want to buy a home and can thrive; not a place to get stuck in with a tax bill over their head that makes that home a stressful liability.