SCARSDALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A redistribution of wealth seems to be going in the wrong direction in one Westchester community, where homeowners are complaining that their wealthier neighbors are getting a tax break at their expense.
As CBS2’s Lou Young reported, in Scarsdale it’s come down to a case of the ultra wealthy versus the merely affluent.
A group of 150 homeowners is suing the village for the most recent round of property tax assessments which allegedly undervalues some prime property.
“They cooked the books in order to drive down the value of the wealthiest homes in Scarsdale to the disadvantage of smaller homeowners,” plaintiffs attorney Robert Bernstein said.
One stately home with a three car garage dropped in assessed value by more than $750,000 — it had been worth $3.75-million.
The tax bill dropped from $90,000 to $76,250 — a tax savings of $13,750.
A more modest home — though smaller being a relative term in Scarsdale — seemed to artificially jump in value. A previous assessment of $1.1-million went up by $250,000.
Taxes that were $26,400 are now $31,800, that’s an increase of $5,400 a year for a retired homeowner on a fixed income.
The entire village was re-assessed at full value two years ago, the richest estate owners complained about the massive hike.
“The original re-evaluation seemed much more reasonable than the second one which brought us back to basically the smaller houses supporting the larger houses,” homeowner Jonathan Brodlow said.
Bernstein said the wrong residents are getting a break.
“I’m talking about the extreme one-percenters. The people who are the wealthiest of the wealthy,” he said, “They’re getting a tremendous break and the question is why.”
It might be because they asked, but the lawsuit seeks to toss out the most recent adjustment and return to the 2014 assessment levels. The village has until mid-February to respond. If it isn’t settled before then a judge may have to decide.