In a regular year, Ceratt said fewer than 10 taxpayers will typically grieve their assessments.
Know the facts
From the New York State Office of Real Property Services, Janet Lasell was initially invited to the meeting by the board to explain the process and reasons for revaluation, but spent most of her time answering questions from the audience.
She offered advice to homeowners heading to an informal hearing -- "You need to go to him with facts," -- but pointed out that Fitts' revaluation was reviewed by the state, which found that his final numbers were accurate.
"Assessment is not an exact science," Lasell said. A group of assessors could all come up with different values for the same property, so the fact that the state and Fitts formulated nearly exactly the same numbers was a good sign that the methods were solid.
That being said, she reminded taxpayers that Fitts had not been inside their homes -- if their basement was under water, he needed to know that to come up with an accurate assessment, and the informal hearing process was their chance to share that information with him.
Is it too late?
If next year's market values indicate a negative trend, as the national housing market and even Lasell seemed to imply it could, homeowners might experience a decrease is assessments - that is, if the town does establish an annual revaluation program.
So why not pause this reval, when people are already battling a failed economy, and wait until next year?
That's just not an option, according to Bush. For one thing, state law does not grant the town board the authority to change assessments or even stop the reval process.
The board can request that of the assessor, but the decision to do so lies with the assessor.