By Larry Austin
Island Dispatch Editor
Waterfront properties are seeing some of the greater changes in value leading up to the next townwide revaluation, assessors told the Grand Island Town Board Monday.
During a workshop meeting at Town Hall, the board heard from the town's assessor, Judy Tafelski, and John Zukowski, vice president of the town's consultant in the reassessment, Emminger Newton Pigeon Magyar Inc. They discussed the town's upcoming reassessment, its first since 2012 and only its second since 1986.
Notices will go in the mail Feb. 29. The Islandwide reassessment is due to be completed by March 1, according to Tafelski. Challenges to assessments start March 15, with appointments to take place at the Nike Base. Tafelski did not anticipate the same kind of challenges to assessments as occurred four years ago, when the reassessment took place for the first time in decades.
"I don't expect we'll have the volume that we had the first time around," Tafelski said. "We're expecting it to be a little less."
An appeal date is the fourth Tuesday in May, Tafelski said, with another date scheduled if needed. Zukowski said it is his company's philosophy to make the process as seamless as possible.
Zukowski said the town had 7,144 residential properties, with 5,269 or 73 percent, seeing a change of less than 10 percent.
There were 859 properties of changes greater than 10 percent, and very few that went down 10 percent.
The biggest changes occurred in commercial properties and those properties along the river, Zukowski said.
Zukowski said the reassessment process, first and foremost, is about equity and value of homes. Taxpayers have a different perspective.
"Let's face it, everything is always about taxes, generally speaking, and people look at this from the perspective of taxes, and we steer them back all the time," he said.
Supervisor Nathan McMurray asked if a reassessment wasn't really about taxes, but Zukowski said all the assessor can deal with is the value of a property on the open market.
"We analyze the market," Tafelski told McMurray.
McMurray said, "It's also about fairness to because you want to make sure that it's a fair evaluation."
A town assessed at 100 percent saves money. Tafelski said a full assessment helps the town's bond rating and allows it to borrow money at a lower percentage.
And as Councilman Mike Madigan emphasized, the assessment is distinct from the tax levy, the latter which is set by the Town Board.
Tafelski said the Town Board has held the line on taxes for years and she "doesn't anticipate that changing."
She said her main concern was that if a neighborhood goes down in value, without an accurate assessment, "those families pay too much, and there is no rebate."
Zukowski said notices will be mailed Feb. 29. He estimated that of 8,900 parcels, the assessments of roughly 6,000 would stay the same.
McMurray pointed out the message for taxpayers is that the process is based on objective standards applied to everyone fairly, and that process addresses a taxpayer's right to dispute.