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Thread: Reassessment and the egregious Condominium Law

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    Reassessment and the egregious Condominium Law

    The Town of Lancaster is considering conducting a property reassessment (reval) program in the near future. The goal is to make sure the new assessments match what properties would sell for in the open market so owners are paying their fair share of the tax levy.

    The only way to combat growing inequity is through a reassessment, which is recommended every three to four years. Lancaster has not had a reassessment since 2010.

    According to assessors reassessments do not generate more tax dollars. Only an elected Town Board raising the tax levy can do that. Well, that’s mostly true except for property owners whose assessments increase and they will now pay more in taxes.

    Sound fair? I can’t think of another or fairer way for towns to raise revenue than taxes based on full market value. However, the fairness leaves the room when we again consider the state’s egregious 339-y Condominium Law concept bastardized by developers and builders at the expense of the rest of the taxpayers. Today’s Buffalo News’s ‘Another Voice’ opinion post clearly states the unfairness of this law:

    http://buffalonews.com/2018/05/15/another-voice-8/

    The state law governing condominium developments was intended to address the need for affordable (vertical) housing primarily in downstate urban areas. Instead the device has been used by developers in suburban communities to provide well-to-do buyers with tax breaks in exchange for market (or generally above-market) rate housing at the expense of municipalities and the majority of taxpayers.

    Despite municipalities submitting memorandum correspondences to Albany voicing objection to the tax breaks, little lip service is provided thereafter and municipalities grant the site plan rezones for the condominium subdivisions to flourish – throwing their collective hands in the air while lamenting that it is a state law and they are hand-tied. We hear about the influence of the Association of Towns, where the beef?

    What is especially onerous about this law and its tax break percentage is that the tax reduction often exceeds the association fee that the property owner pays – sometimes two to three times over the cost of an association fee, depending on property market value.

    Unfortunately, the private property owner unable to purchase a patio or townhome at $250,000 or higher will have to continue subsidizing the more affluent who are able to buy into a good thing as nothing will change – the developers will see to that.

  2. #2
    Tony Fracasso - Admin
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    Why can't the town board just stop the condominium law?

    The State can say crap if the town board says "We don't want the condo law to apply to the town"

    If they object call Cuomo and say.. We have laws about illegal immigration. When you start to fully follow those laws we'll think about this law.

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    Towns can’t stop condominiums through rezoning because a condominium is a form of ownership and ownership can’t be regulated through zoning. Towns can adopt homestead taxation under the state’s Real Property Tax Law and this eliminates the differential treatment of condos. But it’s a complicated law that hurts small businesses by placing more tax burden on them and basically requires the town to maintain 2 sets of books. This is not just a “town” matter; the law applies to all real property, city, town or village. A higher assessment may or may not lead to a higher tax bill. If all assessments go up in the same proportion then the rate will fall for everyone and the tax bill should stay roughly the same. If assessments increase at different rates then some may pay more in tax. And the condo law applies to all condos, not just those purchased by the “well to do”. One might want to search the archives of Amherst town board meetings for a meeting when the hapless Satish Mohan proclaimed that the condo law was only for the benefit of the “rich” and he was going to end it. The next meeting was filled with dozens of condo owners who were far from rich and living on fixed incomes for whom a change in law would be devastating. The fact is that the real property tax law is full of provisions meant to help this or that group, charities, senior citizens, veterans. Each of these might have a compelling claim for tax shifting but the effect is to make some bear a greater tax burden. Just another example of tax policy being a blunt and unwieldy tool for doing social policy. Last I looked fewer that 50 of the 900+ towns in NYS had adopted homestead taxation.
    Last edited by grump; May 17th, 2018 at 04:22 PM.

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    The news report I posted, and which references Amherst, had nothing to say about condos being owned only by the ‘rich’ and does not fit the Town of Lancaster. The focal point of my post paralleled the following paragraph in the report:

    Not only do condominium patio home developments pay less than their fair share of taxes, they also create unfair competition in the housing market against homes of equal size that pay full taxes.

    Where the development property is correctly zoned MFR-3 the town has no site plan say in property rights. Where the town grants a rezone is another matter. The Town of Lancaster Planning Board (PB) recently recommended to the Lancaster Town Board that the application of Eastport Commerce to rezone LI property to MFR-3 for a residential property development that would include patio home construction be denied. At the upcoming May 21, 2018 town board meeting there will be a public hearing on the matter – as is the norm.

    The town board by resolution will then approve or deny the application. There was not one PB member who favored this rezone and gave myriad and substantive reasons why. If there were reason(s) for pursuing legal challenge the applicant has not chosen that path.

    In short, the town has the authority to deny rezone for almost any reason. They rarely chose to do so when patio or townhouse applications come before the board.

    Municipalities double-speak when they claim they would like to remove the law for anything less than high-rise buildings but that their hands are tied.

    There is no compelling reason here for tax shifting to make some bear a greater tax burden. Money talks, bull**** walks! It’s a developer scam! And IMHO, with patio homes selling for $275,000 and up in today's market, many Lancaster residents unfortunately don't have the funds to buy into that tax break con.

    The scam should stop. Those who already bought more house knowing they would be receiving tax breaks should be grandfathered - only so long as they retain possession of the dwelling. Many would be devastated otherwise. Unfortunately nothing will change as municipalities are too heavily invested in the system and the Builders Association has much political juice.

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    The link below is how Cheektowaga dealt with the problem of Condo Status. They passed a new law to banning them from the Town, problem solved.

    http://cheektowagatownny.iqm2.com/Ci...ms=Condominium

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lee Chowaniec View Post
    The news report I posted, and which references Amherst, had nothing to say about condos being owned only by the ‘rich’ and does not fit the Town of Lancaster. The focal point of my post paralleled the following paragraph in the report:

    Not only do condominium patio home developments pay less than their fair share of taxes, they also create unfair competition in the housing market against homes of equal size that pay full taxes.

    Where the development property is correctly zoned MFR-3 the town has no site plan say in property rights. Where the town grants a rezone is another matter. The Town of Lancaster Planning Board (PB) recently recommended to the Lancaster Town Board that the application of Eastport Commerce to rezone LI property to MFR-3 for a residential property development that would include patio home construction be denied. At the upcoming May 21, 2018 town board meeting there will be a public hearing on the matter – as is the norm.

    The town board by resolution will then approve or deny the application. There was not one PB member who favored this rezone and gave myriad and substantive reasons why. If there were reason(s) for pursuing legal challenge the applicant has not chosen that path.

    In short, the town has the authority to deny rezone for almost any reason. They rarely chose to do so when patio or townhouse applications come before the board.

    Municipalities double-speak when they claim they would like to remove the law for anything less than high-rise buildings but that their hands are tied.

    There is no compelling reason here for tax shifting to make some bear a greater tax burden. Money talks, bull**** walks! It’s a developer scam! And IMHO, with patio homes selling for $275,000 and up in today's market, many Lancaster residents unfortunately don't have the funds to buy into that tax break con.

    The scam should stop. Those who already bought more house knowing they would be receiving tax breaks should be grandfathered - only so long as they retain possession of the dwelling. Many would be devastated otherwise. Unfortunately nothing will change as municipalities are too heavily invested in the system and the Builders Association has much political juice.
    You didn’t say that condos are only for the rich just that only the affluent can afford expensive ones, kinda like the affluent being able to afford expensive stuff generally, I guess. I don’t know where you get the notion that a town has no say in site plan approval if a property is properly zoned but that’s simply wrong. You’re right that a rezoning decision rests with the town board. Therefore it would be a waste of $$$ for a developer to legally challenge a planning board recommendation because the real power is with the town board. If no one in Lancaster can afford them then that means they’ll be sold to people moving to town which increases the tax base. And if no one can afford $275k for a condo then who in hell are buying these other noncondo high end properties that are being discriminated against.

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    Quote Originally Posted by depewpaul View Post
    The link below is how Cheektowaga dealt with the problem of Condo Status. They passed a new law to banning them from the Town, problem solved.

    http://cheektowagatownny.iqm2.com/Ci...ms=Condominium
    It will be interesting to see if the law withstands legal challenge. If so then the town can outlaw the sale of property to anyone just based on the form of ownership. I’m no real estate lawyer but my guess is that’s a rather novel legal concept.

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    While I understand and respect the conflicting opinions of Condo status...as I am a patio home owner and currently sit on the Board of Dir. of the HOA...Many of those who are against these developments dont realize that the infrastructure of the community has been paid for, owned and maintained exclusively by the HOA. The street lights, the maint and electricity used , are paid for by the HOA....just as the sewer lines, roads maint, plowing and water system infrastrucutre. We also pay E.C.Water monthly, not quarterly. The "hot box' wher the water lines come out of the ground that service the water supply are owned and maintained , including multiple heaters which keeps water from freezing in cold weather. Many HOA's have much stricter enforcement of building codes with in our community and this also includes regulations for landscaping maintenance.
    If you drive thru most patio home communities, you will find that the homes are better maintained than any ordinary neighborhood with the same market values.
    Many less responsible homeowners do not choose to live in a community such as these because of strict rules and regulations...and then many find these homes popular because they have the confidence that thses same rules and regulations will protect them from slum situations. Many do not even allow non owner occupied home ownership due to issues well known to all... regarding renters.
    It is a style of living that relieves many of the normal day to day headaches of owning a home...and the HOA Board of Directors are made up of VOLUNTEERS..who have a genuine vested interest in ther community, NOT paid politicians.Each homeowner has a vote on many issues how it is managed.
    All in all...many just look at the fact of a discounted property tax relief issue, but all Condo homeowners also pay a monthly maint fee..many $250 and up...please investigate what you are criticizing about before declaring unfair advantage to the condo owners and its' tax breaks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by joe d. View Post
    While I understand and respect the conflicting opinions of Condo status...as I am a patio home owner and currently sit on the Board of Dir. of the HOA...Many of those who are against these developments dont realize that the infrastructure of the community has been paid for, owned and maintained exclusively by the HOA. The street lights, the maint and electricity used , are paid for by the HOA....just as the sewer lines, roads maint, plowing and water system infrastrucutre. We also pay E.C.Water monthly, not quarterly. The "hot box' wher the water lines come out of the ground that service the water supply are owned and maintained , including multiple heaters which keeps water from freezing in cold weather. Many HOA's have much stricter enforcement of building codes with in our community and this also includes regulations for landscaping maintenance.
    If you drive thru most patio home communities, you will find that the homes are better maintained than any ordinary neighborhood with the same market values.
    Many less responsible homeowners do not choose to live in a community such as these because of strict rules and regulations...and then many find these homes popular because they have the confidence that thses same rules and regulations will protect them from slum situations. Many do not even allow non owner occupied home ownership due to issues well known to all... regarding renters.
    It is a style of living that relieves many of the normal day to day headaches of owning a home...and the HOA Board of Directors are made up of VOLUNTEERS..who have a genuine vested interest in ther community, NOT paid politicians.Each homeowner has a vote on many issues how it is managed.
    All in all...many just look at the fact of a discounted property tax relief issue, but all Condo homeowners also pay a monthly maint fee..many $250 and up...please investigate what you are criticizing about before declaring unfair advantage to the condo owners and its' tax breaks.
    I am well acquainted with HOA expenditures as I have lived in a townhouse association community for 24 years. My wife served on the Board of Directors for 7 years – 4 years as president. We pay for like services you referred to but receive a fraction of the tax reduction condominium type homes are receiving today.

    I chose to move into an association community where no tax breaks where available. Community development began when the 339-y tax break program was just beginning. It took 17 years of living in our community before the town realized the discrimination / inequity of their conversion denial decision in 1996.

    I do not quibble that associations who pay for services that are not provided for by the town get tax reduction consideration in return. It is the disproportionate percentages that some receive on houses of unequal value and where some condominium owners are receiving tax breaks far exceeding the association fees they are paying – at least far above the expenditures for services not provided for by the town and where such largess goes for landscaping, snow removal, property maintenance, etc.

    Where is the fairness when two individuals buy into associations where the one is assessed at $200,000 and the other at $400,000; and where both provide same services at equal expenditures and where both are receiving a 30% tax reduction? At approximately $32 per $1,000 of property assessment the one will pay $1920 less in annual taxes, the other $3,840.

    You mentioned a $250 per month association fee; $3,000 per year. The average new patio home in Lancaster right now is selling for $300,000. The buyer will be saving $2,880 in taxes; $290 per month. Are you seriously telling me that $250 per month, or even $290 per month, is being spent for services not provided for by the town? I think not! I hope as there are associations getting less than $50 per month in tax breaks and have like expenditures.

    The tax break allowance should be capped at exactly what the expenditures are to provide services not provided by the town and not based on market value.

    That’s not called ‘criticizing’, that’s a call for ‘fairness’.

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    In this week's COMMUNICATIONS is a letter from the assessor requesting a resolution to contract with GAR Associates for the 2020 reassessment in the amount of $282,000.




    If we receive $5 per parcel from the state, (18998 parcels) $94,990, the cost to the taxpayers will be $187,010. From what I've read from here - https://www.tax.ny.gov/research/prop...guidelines.pdf the $5 reimbursement is only done with municipalities who will perform cyclical reassessments
    Have a GREAT day,
    Georgia Schlager

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    "You mentioned a $250 per month association fee; $3,000 per year. The average new patio home in Lancaster right now is selling for $300,000. The buyer will be saving $2,880 in taxes; $290 per month. Are you seriously telling me that $250 per month, or even $290 per month, is being spent for services not provided for by the town? I think not! I hope as there are associations getting less than $50 per month in tax breaks and have like expenditures."

    A portion of the monthly payments funds current and future road maintenance, sidewalk repairs (if any), annual snow plowing services, future infrastructure repairs, underground sewer cleaning, water line repairs under the roadway...these are items that must be put in escrow, no bonds, borrowing, and begging the politicos to do these repairs or maintenance is done. It is decided by whom and when these services are performed. There is no complaint line for potholes, , asphalt road sealing is generally performed every 2-3 years, keeping our roads in excellent condition. We are a community within a community who have more control over our homesite than a normal municipal village or town would or currently exists. All these amenities or advantages come at a cost, a cost funded by the HOA members, NOT the taxpayers in general, or the town sewer authority, or Erie Co Water Auth.
    Painting a picture of unfairness without all the facts is a disservice to readers who have limited knowledge of all the facts.

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    Quote Originally Posted by joe d. View Post
    "You mentioned a $250 per month association fee; $3,000 per year. The average new patio home in Lancaster right now is selling for $300,000. The buyer will be saving $2,880 in taxes; $290 per month. Are you seriously telling me that $250 per month, or even $290 per month, is being spent for services not provided for by the town? I think not! I hope not as there are associations getting less than $50 per month in tax breaks and have like expenditures."

    A portion of the monthly payments funds current and future road maintenance, sidewalk repairs (if any), annual snow plowing services, future infrastructure repairs, underground sewer cleaning, water line repairs under the roadway...these are items that must be put in escrow, no bonds, borrowing, and begging the politicos to do these repairs or maintenance is done. It is decided by whom and when these services are performed. There is no complaint line for potholes, , asphalt road sealing is generally performed every 2-3 years, keeping our roads in excellent condition. We are a community within a community who have more control over our homesite than a normal municipal village or town would or currently exists. All these amenities or advantages come at a cost, a cost funded by the HOA members, NOT the taxpayers in general, or the town sewer authority, or Erie Co Water Auth.
    Painting a picture of unfairness without all the facts is a disservice to readers who have limited knowledge of all the facts.
    Again, you are preaching to the choir. I already made it clear to you that I have lived in an HOA environment for 24 years and where I likewise pay an association fee to cover all the expenditures you redundantly mention.

    If you are telling me that your tax break just covers the services not provided by the town that is one thing. However, there are HOA’s receiving tax breaks that far exceed the costs to just provide services not provided by the town; and in truth taxpayers are paying for other services provided by such associations – such as landscaping, driveway snow removal, operational maintenance, etc. That is not fair.

    Condominium Law 339-y applied to anything but its original intent to address high-rise apartment buildings is a disingenuous developer scam to begin with.

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    You redundantly made it clear of your past residence lifestyle...there are costs associated with this community style living that are not paid for by the municipality. ..thus saving other non condo property tax dollars...and again you redundantly stated there is some variation and unfair tax breaks...I can mention a few..but the worst offender in Amherst is the Greythorne development by Marrano. There are many inequities in the ordinary tax assessments in many towns...and really only come to light when there is a whole town reassessment and property owners realize exactly what others are paying.

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    Quote Originally Posted by depewpaul View Post
    The link below is how Cheektowaga dealt with the problem of Condo Status. They passed a new law to banning them from the Town, problem solved.

    http://cheektowagatownny.iqm2.com/Ci...ms=Condominium

    Shame on me. When you said Cheektowaga outlawed condominiums I assumed that’s what the law actually does but it does no such thing. It prevents existing subdevelopments from “going condo” to take advantage of the assessment provisions. The state specifically allows the adoption of these local laws. The Cheektowaga law does not prevent the development of new condos in town.

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    Quote Originally Posted by grump View Post
    Shame on me. When you said Cheektowaga outlawed condominiums I assumed that’s what the law actually does but it does no such thing. It prevents existing subdevelopments from “going condo” to take advantage of the assessment provisions. The state specifically allows the adoption of these local laws. The Cheektowaga law does not prevent the development of new condos in town.
    Thanks Grump. I knew the post was irrelevant to today's Condominium Law and is why I did not respond.

    Did some research today and found a recently developed patio subdivision in Lancaster where homes priced from $249,000 to $293,000 were receiving 35% tax breaks that amounted to much more in revenue than required to cover services not provided by the town.

    I intend to find out what the new Marrano patio home owners will be getting in tax breaks on the houses that were shown in today's Home section. The subdivision at William and Bowen was rezoned from R-1 to MFR-3 and the home prices are listed as between $300,000 to $400,000.

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