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Town Voter Talks Nov. 8 Elections, Revaluation

MAMARONECK, N.Y. -- Jonathan Sacks is keeping a close eye on the Town of Mamaroneck's revaluation process going into the Nov. 8 elections.

Sacks, a town resident, bought his home in 2005, right as the housing market slipped into catastrophe. In 2009, he successfully challenged the value of his home because "I thought I was paying too much in taxes." Now, he hopes the town's first property reassessment since 1968 is done right.

Four-term councilwoman Phyllis Wittner (D), who reminded Larchmont residents at the last Board meeting they too can vote for the town council seats up for election, puts the revaluation near the top of her list of priorities if elected to a fifth term Nov. 8.

"We'd like to see reevaluation go through smoothly and there's no reason that it shouldn't because we have spent a great deal of time on the necessary informational meetings and addressing the questions of the public," Wittner said.

Her opponent Seth Marcus (R) is also focused on ensuring the revaluation is done correctly, considering Stephen Altieri, town administrator, estimates the costs to be between $1.75 million and $2.33 million.

"These are obviously significant numbers and as this process goes forward the Board is going to have to be extremely vigilant to ensure that taxpayer money is not being spent to create more problems for the taxpayers than are being solved," Marcus said.

Abby Katz (D), also running for one of the two contested council seats, believes the revaluation will pay for itself after a few years by cutting down on the amount of petitions for writ of certiorari, such as the one Sacks filed in 2009.

"I think, over time, there has been a lot of inequities in how properties have been taxed," Katz said. "It's a big unknown every year how much money the town is going to have to give back to people who are challenging it. I think once the revaluation is done, it's going to greatly diminish the amount that people can contest, because everybody will be assessed at fair market value."

Sacks also has experience giving advice on budgets and would like to see the Town of Mamaroneck consolidate certain services with the two villages, as well as the Mamaroneck School District, to reduce costs.

Sacks, who helped found the Citizens Budget Advisory Committee for the Mamaroneck school system, believes that the three municipality's emergency services could be run more efficiently if they were consolidated.

Katz sees limited opportunities for shared services between the town and the schools. But, at a recent local Summit meeting, Katz said she was approached by a school board member who suggested appointing a liaison between the school and the town, which is something they've done in the past.

"I think anything that opens the door of communications and keeps things working smoothly is important, especially since the school is the largest part of our tax bill and people often mistake that for the town's portion."

The town Board has discussed consolidation in the past, said Wittner, who agrees that it would save money, but doesn't believe it is time yet to do so with services such as police and fire, as Sacks suggested. She does, however, see room for more inter-municipal cooperation similar to the Volunteer Ambulance Corp, which services the town and two villages.

Paul Goldiner, a resident of the unincorporated Town of Mamaroneck, worries about such measures.

"I think shared services mean less services," said the 50-year resident, who will vote Democrat in the coming elections.

Wittner, Katz and Marcus, in addition to other local and county candidates will talk further about the issues at the League of Women Voters forum Wednesday at the Town Center Courtroom at 6:15 p.m.

The Town Board will also hold its first public work session on the tentative 2012 budget Wednesday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Weaver Street Firehouse.

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