Astorino Appoints Former Somers Supervisor Mary Beth Murphy to Executive Director of the Westchester Tax Commission

eHezi Governance 2 Comments

6a00d8345159b169e201a73d843fa7970d-200wi6a00d8345159b169e201a73d843f82970d-200wiWHITE PLAINS, NY — County Executive Robert P. Astorino announced the appointment of Mary Beth Murphy on Thursday, February 27, 2014, to executive director of the Westchester County Tax Commission. As executive director, Murphy, who had served as Supervisor of the Town of Somers since 1998, will be responsible for reviewing the assessment rolls of towns and cities as they pertain to County taxes and providing advisory services to municipalities concerning assessments and assessment procedures.

“I am pleased to appoint Mary Beth Murphy to this important position,” Astorino said. “Her extensive experience combined with her diligence and her sense of service to the residents of Westchester County make her the ideal person to head this very complex office.” Murphy replaces David B. Jackson, who retired in January after serving since 2001. The appointment is effective as of Feb. 18 and includes a salary of $132,155. Born in New York City and raised in Yonkers, Murphy has resided in Somers since 1989. She attended Syracuse University and graduated cum laude from Fordham University School of Law. Prior to being elected Somers Supervisor, Murphy practiced law in Mount Kisco and New York City. “During my 16 years as Somers Supervisor, I worked closely with residents, assessors and developers, and I know how budgets have a direct impact on taxpayers,” Murphy said. “Accurate information is paramount, and in this role I will be able to serve as a valuable resource to our municipalities. I am excited to be part of County Executive Astorino’s administration, and I look forward to working hard for the people of Westchester.” In Westchester County, property taxes are levied by school districts, local governments, cities and towns on behalf of the county, and special districts such as fire, sewer, water and library.

eHeziAstorino Appoints Former Somers Supervisor Mary Beth Murphy to Executive Director of the Westchester Tax Commission

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  1. New Westchester Tax Commission head could use primer on property-tax system TAX WATCH
    David McKay Wilson, TJN 9:42 p.m. EST February 28, 2014

    Running for public office has its rewards, even if you lose.

    Former Somers Supervisor Mary Beth Murphy came close in her bid to unseat incumbent Westchester County Clerk Tim Idoni in November, but came up short, losing by 89,205 to 80,276 votes.

    On Thursday, her appointment as executive director of the Westchester County Tax Commission was announced by County Executive Rob Astorino, a fellow Republican. The job, which carries at six-year term, pays $132,155 a year.

    “I’m very grateful for the opportunity to serve the people of Westchester,” Murphy told Tax Watch. “I was supervisor for 16 years, and I certainly dealt with tax issues during my tenure there. It brought exposure to multiple levels of government. ”

    The Tax Commission serves as the repository for the assessment rolls from the county’s multiple taxing jurisdictions. The commission also provides advisory services to municipalities concerning assessments and assessment procedures, and provides an annual report to the county Board of Legislators.

    Don’t expect Murphy to become an advocate for revaluation in Westchester municipalities. While supervisor in Somers, she said the town board, under her leadership, never entertained such an initiative. The town last revalued its property in 1975 – 39 years ago. Since then, the town has used the imperfect state equalization rate, which calculates the full market value of a parcel from the decades-old assessment, based on an average of property values town-wide.

    The equalization rate in Somers is 13.8 percent, which means the assessments are 13.8 percent of full value. It was 10.8 in 2007, which reflected higher property values in Somers during the real-estate bubble.

    “We did not entertain it over my 16 years,” said Murphy. “We have a good way of reporting our tax bills, and did not see a desire for it by the constituency. The town has a very good reputation for its tax rate.”

    She said that anyone with an objection to an assessment that was too high could grieve it before the town’s Board of Assessment Review.

    I asked her about the Somers property owners whose real-estate was under-assessed, and get subsidized by others in town who are paying their fair share. Under state law, a town assessor is not allowed to raise someone’s assessment unless there is a town-wide revaluation, even if a recent sale puts its fair-market value far above what the town assessment – and the ever-changing equalization rate – pegs it at.

    Murphy told Tax Watch that the state equalization takes care of that issue.

    “There’s the equalization rate to level the playing field,” she said.

    The equalization rate, however, does nothing to level the playing field between those who are under-assessed, and those who are fairly assessed or over-assessed. It’s a percentage that’s applied to all assessments equally.

    The rule of thumb in a town-wide revaluation is that one-third of the properties see their values rise, one-third remain the same, and one-third has their taxable values go down.

    The equalization rate works to perpetuate our region’s unfair property-tax system. It allows the under-assessed – the one-third who would see their taxable values rise – to continue to receive a free ride on the backs of their neighbors.

  2. Very good choice, She did a great job during her tenure in Somers. Hopefully she doesn’t become like the rest in county government! That’d be a shame……

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