Letter to the Editor: Disproportionate Share of the Roxbury School Tax

Dear Editor:

Last year when Halcottsville residents received their Roxbury School
tax bill, jaws dropped. In some cases, it nearly doubled. Several
families remarked that they were considering leaving the area because
school taxes were killing them. Something needed to be done. So we
gathered together to discuss the situation.

Halcottsville is part of Middletown but our children go to school in
Roxbury. Accordingly, the taxable value of our properties are
determined by Middletown but we pay school tax based on those values
to Roxbury. Middletown recently revalued all properties to current
market value while Roxbury has not. We understand that there is an
equalization calculation to make up for the difference in how taxable
values are determined. However, the formula for determining the
equalization rate is itself based on knowing the current market value
of all properties. Without a revaluation of all Roxbury properties the
formula cannot possibly work. As a result, we in Halcottsville are
bearing a disproportionate share of the Roxbury School Tax.

Further, Roxbury residents who purchased their properties more
recently also receive uneven treatment as compared to Roxbury property
owners who have held title for many years. Apparently, property
purchased within the past 15 years have much higher taxable values
based on purchase prices paid than owners who purchased in earlier
years with taxable value remaining constant at the price they paid.
Comparable properties are taxed differently based on when title
transferred and the amount of consideration paid. Recent Roxbury
purchasers are victims of this inequitable system as well.

Although, by law, all towns are required to reassess to market value,
Roxbury has not complied and based on the assertions of township
officials who apparently benefit from this circumstance, Roxbury does
not intend to. As the law is not enforced, the inequity continues
affecting both recent Roxbury purchasers and Halcottsville owners.
Were Roxbury to assess at market value the inequity would disappear.
Providing additional frustration to us is that although we pay taxes
to Roxbury School District we have no voice to protest as we are
residents of Middletown. Taxation without representation akin to our
ancestors plight.

We are aware that the Roxbury Town Supervisor, Mr. Hynes, has
publicized efforts to revalue Roxbury and thus bring tax fairness to
us all. We note however that he has merely voiced support for the
process with no action plan in place and further indicated that it
would take years to accomplish. We are not satisfied with this

We are looking for leadership from our elected officials that preside
over both Halcottsville and Roxbury to help us establish a fair system
of taxation. Our Assemblymen, Cliff Crouch and Pete Lopez, will be at
the Halcottsville Grange Hall (across the street from the post office)
this Saturday, June 23, at 10:00 AM to help us in our quest for an
equitable system of taxation. Please join us in this conversation.

Sharon Suess