by Ted Carroll, Guest Columnist
Despite official protestations to the contrary, apparently almost everyone here must be at least secretly reading MyRye.com.
When we last visited the subject of Rye’s Political Assessments, we profiled high ranking current and former Rye City employees quietly and successfully obtaining substantial Rye City property tax reductions for their personal residences. We also spotlighted similar apparently even larger property tax underassessments within Rye’s political mega-donor ranks, and showed how an Ex-Rye City Mayor & the current Rye City Assessor apparently dodged NYS felony charges under the STAR tax exemption program by claiming ignorance and incompetence. Don’t try that one at home.
Last Friday an item appeared without comment on the official City Council Agenda for this Wednesday night’s meeting. Here in Item Number 9 we find:
“Consideration of Resolution establishing a new policy for grievance filings for current and former City employees, Rye City Officials, and members of the Board of Assessment Review.”
Reading further into the WHERAS’s and the BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED’s we see that one municipality can ask another municipality to review tax assessment reduction requests for certain classes of referred petitioners – such as from individual members of the Rye Board of Assessment Review. No mention is made as to whether these requests have previously taken place but the right to do so exists under state law and it requires council approval and an executed inter-municipal agreement. Someone has been busy researching this to be sure.
Two glaring ‘Resolution’ omissions are evident.
The first will immediately come to mind to those who ponder how a Rye resident can apparently spend over $1 million in reconstructing their entire home – live in the structure without a Certificate of Occupancy or Final Inspection for an extended period – and be blessed with less than a $2000 property tax assessment increase. Apparently, to paraphrase a popular political sage, “It’s the donations, stupid!”
That’s right, among the classes of petitioners selected by the city council for inclusion in their new proposal on Wednesday night no reference is made to the ‘activity’ at any level recorded by law in the New York State Board of Elections Contribution and Expenditure Database – that handy and valuable source of New York political class information and pecking order – the same public database I queried to create 2015 Rye City Council Elections – Follow The Money and 2015 Rye City Council Elections – Follow The Money (Again) – (Now) From Anywhere.
In a future column I’ll draw links between incredible luck at Rye City Hall and serious hard cash contributed to local pol’s (as in the example above) – but for now let’s just focus on the ‘Resolution’ at hand.
The second glaring omission from this ‘legislative process’ announced just last Friday is that it keeps a secret. And the secret is that a Freedom of Information FOIL records request was lawfully submitted to Rye City Hall on April 14th of 2016 for:
“Any and all Stipulations of Settlement the City of Rye has made with any and all taxpayers with regard to any and all Small Claims Assessment Review matters as well as any and all Petitions for Small Claims Assessment Reviews received by the City of Rye since January 1, 2011.”
Once these public records are retrieved, delivered and reviewed, it is entirely possible that additional incidents of apparent luck by city employees, the political class and the political donor class may come to light. In fact we are almost certain they will. That’s why the city has yet to even acknowledge this lawful request even exists. Which in and of itself is – unlawful.
To cut off further disclosures, discussion and debate about apparent insider tax windfalls a quick narrow Resolution here would be a classic Rye maneuver for an administration addicted to special interests and allergic to actual transparency and accountability. Let the games begin.
Right, Deputy Mayor Julie Killian?
Ted Carroll was recently awarded a property assessment reduction by one court, then had it taken away by another, has made no recent political donations, is a lifelong Rye resident, a Certified Public Accountant, and a partner at Noson Lawen Partners, a media industry private equity firm.
See some of Carroll’s other 2016 MyRye.com commentaries here: