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Cicero: Assessment committee makes recommendations

After five months of work, Cicero's assessment committee has worked out a plan to address the assessment issue in the town.

The committee is calling for the town to switch from partial to full assessments, to add staff at the assessor's office, to improve the grievance process and to conduct a town-wide reassessment over the next two years.

The committee came up with their recommendations by working with representatives from the state and county offices of real property tax services, as well as several assessors from neighboring municipalities.

There is no quick, easy fix for this problem, said John Winters, chairman of the committee, who presented the recommendations entitled Moving to Assessment Fairness and Equity for the Town of Cicero. This is truly a process, and it's a lengthy process, but it has to be done in order to insure equity in our tax rolls.

Cicero is currently assessed on a partial basis using an equalization rate. According to the assessor's office, the equalization rate changes every year depending on the sales activities in the real estate market and is meant to reflect those changes. The actual number is arrived after a review of market data by both New York state and the town of Cicero assessor. When the rate drops, market value increases. Conversely, when the rate goes up, market values decrease. This year, the rate was 4.9 percent.

If the town switches to a full assessment, the assessed value of a house - the number real property taxes are based on - will be its full market value.

The state is also encouraging this move, offering $5 per parcel - a total of $67,750 for Cicero's 13,550 parcels - in state aid to make the switch.

Unfortunately, there is no way to stagger or gradually increase real property taxes based on assessments. But residents shouldn't be concerned that, if the town switches to a full assessment, their taxes will necessarily skyrocket.

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