With all the concern about property values, the life of an assessor can’t be an easy one. Nevertheless, Gardiner Assessor Maureen Gallagher is a pleasure to talk to about a job she thoroughly enjoys. “The part I find most satisfying is the assistance I can offer taxpayers to navigate a complex system,” Maureen says. Maureen provides that assistance five days a week at the Gardiner Town Hall.
Maureen began her career in Gardiner in 2005 as Confidential Secretary to then Supervisor Carl Zatz; transitioned into the assessor’s office in 2006, when she served as clerk to Gardiner’s last elected assessor Minke Kwak; and continued under Joy Mazzetti, Gardiner’s first appointed assessor. Maureen became Acting Assessor when Joy left in 2010. Currently, Maureen is working toward State Certification, a requirement for her permanent appointment to the job, and when that is complete will work towards the additional requirement of certification from the Institute of Assessing Officers.
The information Maureen has at her fingertips is reassuring. “Data [on properties] in Gardiner is very good and the data, to a great extent, determines the accuracy of the assessment,” Maureen explains. Gardiner may be in line for a revaluation within the next year or two. The cost of that revaluation, when it occurs, is partially reimbursable by the State. Maureen adds, “People should welcome ‘revals,’ because it makes the evaluation process more equitable.”
“What To Do If You Disagree With Your Assessment” is a pamphlet available at www.orps.state.ny.us. You can also visit that website for information about Grievance Day, which is May 24, 2011, or you can call the Assessor’s Office at 255-9675, extension 104 or 105 and speak to Maureen or her assistant Monique Morano.
Since last year, changes have been made to the New York State School Tax Relief program, known as STAR. Basic STAR is available to all homeowners on a primary residence, with no age limit, but now with an income limit of $500,000. You need only apply once. Enhanced STAR is available if you are over or turning 65 in 2011 and your adjusted gross income is under $79,050. The Senior Exemption is available for those 65 and older with incomes under $34,400 (this exemption applies to school and property tax). The Veteran’s Exemption is available if you or your spouse served during a wartime period and, finally, the Cold War Veteran’s Exemption is available if you served from 1945 – 1991 and receive no other veteran’s exemption. Forms are available online at www.orps.state.ny.us or at the Assessor’s Office. All exemptions must be filed on or before March 1st, 2011.
Maureen leaves us with a caution: mass mailings have gone out to residents of Kingston and Plattekill claiming that recipient’s assessments are much higher than those of their neighbors. For a $99 fee, an offer is made to help the taxpayer grieve their property assessment.
Maureen wants tax payers to know that the information they need to compare their assessments is available free of charge at the Assesor’s Office and says, “Our job here is to assist tax payers. First, I can look over the assessment of a property and determine if I can lower it. The tax payer can then decide to accept my findings or proceed to grievance to have the information reviewed by the Board of Review.” Maureen adds, “People today have great concerns brought about by our troubled economy. I try to make the assessment process more understandable.”
Gardiner’s taxpayers are in good hands.