The Village of Mineola settled a number of remaining cases on its property tax grievance ledgers last week to the tune of about $262,000, a little more than half of the grievances filed by property owners, thus coming up to date with all of its outstanding cases.
Tax certiorari settlements are brought by commercial property owners who claim that their properties are over assessed and are paying too much in property taxes. If their grievance is successful, the property owners are entitled to a refund of the overpaid taxes.
In 2003 the village was paying $1.3 million to settle cases and borrowing to pay the refunds, which was rolled into bonds totaling about $5 million in bonds.
“Mayor (Jack) Martins took the position that bonding for tax cert refunds was bad business and strapped the future generations of taxpayers with debt, prolonged the problem and left the village taxpayers with debt and nothing to show for it,” current mayor Scott Strauss said during the regular meeting of the village board on August 7 at the village hall, noting the implementation of a “pay-as-you-go” system which also limited future bonding. The village had also conducted a reassessment of all real estate in the village.
Strauss said that the village has reduced the outstanding amount in bonds each year as well as the amount paid for in tax settlements by 80 percent due to the village’s programs. The current fiscal year amount budgeted for tax certiorari settlements is $450,000.
The total amount demanded by property tax owners this year was $464,950, while the amount settled by the village was $262,700 in 24 cases. At the recommendation of Strauss, the village also paid one prior carryover from last year that totaled $37,500 that was not due until 2014-15 fiscal year for the Fairhaven Apartments.
“We will then begin the 2014-15 fiscal year with no carryover obligations,” Strauss said. “We will start off the next fiscal year being able to reallocate a large part of the $450,000 certiorari budget line into other lines such as parks, road repaving or maintaining our infrastructure. Although people will always – and rightfully so – be able to challenge their assessments, we have now permanently stopped the hemorrhaging.”