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Southampton Town to freeze tax assessments for one more year 

Southampton assesses properties on their "100% full valuation,"

Southampton assesses properties on their "100% full valuation," meaning the assessed value reflects the home's current market rate. Credit: Randee Daddona

Southampton Town will extend a freeze on property tax assessments for another year as the town continues to study the way it values property and pursue methods to prevent tax spikes.

The town board at its meeting Tuesday voted 5-0 in favor to extend the freeze through 2022 citing how COVID-19 has driven up real estate prices, which could increase property taxes for homeowners.

"Normally we would adjust your property based on the real estate market, which I'm hearing over the last year has gone up on the average 19%, a very significant jump," Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said shortly before the vote.

Southampton and Shelter Island are the only two Long Island towns that assess properties on their "100% full valuation," meaning the assessed value reflects the home’s current market rate.

The more frequently properties are reassessed based on current market values, the more likely the assessments are fair, according to the state Department of Taxation and Finance. But in a second-home market like Southampton, longtime residents can see their taxes jump because of expensive home sales in their neighborhood.

The Southampton freeze only applies to valuation increases due to market trends. Property owners who construct additions or make other improvements could still see their valuation go up. Residents can also still grieve their taxes.

The board had initially frozen assessments for 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 with the plan to convene a committee to study the issue and make recommendations to address it. The committee had suggested enacting a so-called homestead exemption to lower the assessed value of a primary residence by $50,000 as well as institution of an annual 5% valuation increase cap.

The exemption could lower the town tax bill for the owner of, for example, a $500,000 home in Hampton Bays by $408.50, or $302.55 in Tuckahoe, according to the town.

Town officials had asked state representatives to sponsor legislation allowing for those provisions in Southampton Town. The bills were not brought to either house of the legislature for a vote last year, but officials are hopeful they can be passed this year.

"We are still waiting with the hope that Albany will give us some tools so when and if we are able to return to full value assessment, we're able to buffer some of the impacts so people don't see their property taxes … spike in any way," Schneiderman said.

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