Single family home owners in the Towns of Sweden, Clarkson and Hamlin all pay higher taxes because the college slumlords in Brockport aren’t paying their fair share. Why? Because Sweden Town Assessor Tony Eaffaldano refuses to follow the rules laid down by the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance.
The assessment of income-producing properties is supposed to be based on the rental income the property owner receives from that property. But Assessor Eaffaldano doesn’t always do that, and that’s why the single family home owners wind up paying higher taxes.
Eaffaldano sets the property assessments for all the properties in the town of Sweden, and thousands of people are paying higher taxes because Eaffaldano doesn’t follow the rules about what is and is not a commercial property:
- All the single family home owners in the Towns of Sweden, Clarkson and Hamlin pay higher school taxes.
- All the single family home owners in the Town of Sweden pay higher town taxes, and county taxes.
- All the single family home owners in the Village of Brockport pay higher village taxes, town taxes, and county taxes.
According to the Uniform Assessment Standards published by the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, “There are three accepted approaches for determining market value: Comparable Sales, Income, and Cost”. Those Uniform Assessment Standards also state that, “The income approach is the preferred approach for income-producing property.”
That’s interesting because the Sweden Town Assessor does not adhere to those standards. Instead, Assessor Eaffaldano assesses some income-producing student rental property as commercial properties and some income-producing student rental property as residential properties. And there doesn’t seem to be a logical reason why. Some student rentals are classified as commercial, while a very similar student rental property nearby is assessed as a residential property.
That’s important because the student rental business in Brockport is a multi-million dollar business annually. But Assessor Eaffaldano treats less than half of those businesses as commercial properties. He treats more than half of those businesses as residential properties, which means the landlords of those properties pay lower taxes.
“The income approach is the preferred approach for income-producing property.”
New York State Department of Taxation and Finance
Uniform Assessment Standards
However, nobody in the Sweden Town government seems to have a clue that Town Assessor Tony Eaffaldano is not following the rules. In response to a FOIL request about which properties in the Village of Brockport are assessed using the income approach, the Sweden Town Clerk replied that, according to “The Sweden Town Attorney and the Town Assessor … All commercial properties are valued by income, except for churches and schools.”
NOT! Using the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance’s definition of what should be assessed as a commercial property; all the commercial properties in the Town of Sweden are not valued by income. Not by a log shot!
It is amazing what you can discover if you are willing to file a Freedom of Information (FOIL) request for information, and then take the time to crunch the numbers. According to data supplied by Sweden Town Assessor Eaffaldano in response to a different FOIL request, there are 367 income producing rental properties in the village of Brockport, but only 117 of those income producing rental properties are assessed using the income approach that the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance says should be used.
How can that be, you ask? The answer is simple. Under New York State law, Sweden Town Assessor Tony Eaffaldano is the only person on the face of the earth who has the power to determine which properties in the Town of Sweden are income-producing properties. And Tony Eaffaldano doesn’t give a rat’s backside that the student rentals are “income producing properties” that should be taxed as commercial properties.
The root of the problem is that Eaffaldano is either too lazy to do his job in a reasonable manner, or he is afraid to do his job in a reasonable manner because his job is controlled by the corrupt Sweden Republican machine that is run and financed by the college slumlords. So why would Eaffaldano follow the rules laid down by the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance. What’s in it for him?
“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
For example, the student rental house at 60 Erie Street owned by Jimmy Zisovski, has 11 bedrooms according to the Sweden Town Assessor, and has 2,964 square feet of space. It is classified as a commercial property (class 418).
Class 418 is defined by the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance as – “Inns, Lodges, Boarding and Rooming Houses, Tourist Homes, Fraternity and Sorority Houses: Sleeping accommodations with or without meals or kitchen privileges.”
However, the property at 32 Holley Street, owned by Justin St. John, has 13 bedrooms, and has 2,168 square feet of space. But it is classified by Town Assessor Tony Eaffaldano as a two-family house (class 220). So it is not assessed or taxed on the income it produces. However, it is not even remotely used as a two-family house; it is used as living accommodations for college students.
The two student rental houses are not identical – no two houses are. But they are quite similar. The student rental house at 60 Erie Street is slightly larger than the student rental house at32 Holley Street, but the assessment of the house at 60 Erie Street is 66% higher than the assessment of the house at Holley Street even though it has it has 19% fewer income-producing bedrooms.
The exterior of the student rental house at 60 Erie Street is in good shape, while the exterior of the student rental house at32 Holley Street is a mess. To be polite, the student rental house at32 Holley Street is a dump. It needs a coat of paint, the fence is falling down, and the door to the upstairs apartment is propped wide open. But that shouldn’t matter because assessment of income-producing properties is supposed to be based on the income the property owner gets from that property.
According to the New York State Assessor’s Manual, assessment class 418 is reserved for “Inns, Lodges, Boarding and Rooming Houses, Tourist Homes, Fraternity and Sorority Houses”. Class 410 is used for “Living Accommodations”. However, for some inexplicable reason, the Town of Sweden has no properties classified in Class 410, Living Accommodations.
The Town of Sweden, the Village of Brockport and the Brockport Central School District are all struggling to stay under the New York State tax cap. In fact the Town of Sweden has failed to do so. But it would be a lot easier for the Town of Sweden, the Village of Brockport and the Brockport Central School District to stay under the tax cap if Sweden Town Assessor Tony Eaffaldano followed the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance’s rules, and assessed all the student rental properties as income-producing properties.
If Eaffaldano did that, it would be a win-win-win-win situation for the taxpayers in Brockport, Sweden Clarkson, and Hamlin (except for the slumlords). But change only happens when we are fully committed to do whatever it takes to make the change. Are you willing to demand that Sweden Town Assessor Eaffaldano must start following the rules?