American Elephants

Bureaucracy At Work, Nobody In Charge. by The Elephant's Child

Hurricane SandyIIBureaucracy is alive and at work on the other side of the country. Homeowners in an exclusive waterfront neighborhood in Brooklyn thought it was as bad as it could get when the storm surge from Hurricane Sandy hit. Many have yet to return to their damaged homes. Others have spent thousands repairing the damage to their homes.

The city, obeying a New York state approved capped five-year formula for setting assessment levels has hiked the assessed valuations on their homes significantly. Their property-value notices, pre-dated January 15, didn’t arrive until the first week of February informing homeowners that they had until Feb. 1 to apply for assistance through the Finance Department’s new Hurricane  Sandy Property Tax Relief program. Finance Department spokesman Owen Stone said the deadline had  been pushed back to Feb. 15, but the program has been in operation since late November.

This is what happens in a bureaucracy. The rules say the houses have appreciated in value. It occurs to no one that that neighborhood was the one they’ve been watching on television with all the storm damage. If damaged  home valuations did occur to anyone, who has the authority to order a change to the state mandated appraisal increases? It is all just so complicated, and fines are waiting to be levied on those who don’t respond quickly enough.

One oceanfront home still had its windows and doors boarded up, and the owner has yet to return because the home was so badly damaged by Sandy. Common sense would dictate their property values have fallen, but the city says the home’s market value has jumped by $473,000 during the past year to $3.1 million.

Well, good luck to them all.  Spokesman Owen Stone said his agency is reviewing 2,900 applications citywide, and that sounds like it doesn’t include all those folks who just got their notices.

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