Should your taxes go down if you lose land?

Updated: Nov. 7, 2019 at 5:41 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - You pay taxes on your land. But if you have less land because of erosion from flooding, should you pay less in taxes? That question was raised at a town of Henderson board meeting Wednesday night.

Jefferson County Legislator Bobby Cantwell, who represents the towns of Clayton and Cape Vincent, says he has also heard the same concern from people he represents.

"I have heard from a number of constituents that have grave concerns over the fact that they have lost so much of their waterfront property and how this will affect their assessments and certainly they have their right to request a reduction in their assessed values," he said.

Roxanne Burns of Jefferson County Real Property Tax Services recommends people who want to challenge their assessments values start with talking to their town assessor.

"For example, say they have a boathouse and there is a certain amount of value on that boathouse and the if the boathouse is washed away due to the flooding storm damage, then the assessor would probably reduce that assessed value for the dollar amount on that boathouse," she said.

But when it comes to erosion of shore line property, Burns said, "Chances are if someone just loses a foot or two feet of their shoreline, that is not going to have a dramatic effect on their total assessed value."

But Burns says if the taxable value decreases on many properties in a town, that impacts the town's budget and could mean a tax increase.

It's something Cantwell says he's concerned about.

"Right or wrong this is certainly going to be addressed by each and every community on both sides of the river and lake," he said.

Burns says county officials have also been keeping an on eye on what decreased property values mean for county tax rates but officials don’t anticipate any big changes.

While this issue will affect towns and villages in Jefferson County, many people tell 7 News they think New York state will eventually be brought in on the conversation.

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