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Cicero hires GAR Associates for reassessment project

The town of Cicero approved a contract with GAR Associates, a Buffalo firm, for a town-wide revaluation project that will result in a full reassessment of all 1300 parcels in the town.

The town board voted unanimously to approve the contract with GAR Associates at a special meeting Friday July 10. The company will begin evaluating properties in the town at the beginning of August.

The project will cost the town close to $1 million; they will pay GAR Associates $200,000 for August through December of 2009, $400,000 for 2010 and $325,000 for 2011. According to town comptroller Jeanne Kulesa, there is enough money in the town's reserve fund to cover this year's costs. In 2010 and 2011, the money will come out of the town's general budget.

By the end of 2011, all parcels in the town will be assessed at full value (the town currently assesses on a partial basis using an equalization rate of 4.9 percent).

The project was deemed necessary by a committee of citizens last fall. The committee was formed after former assessor Anita Barnello was lambasted for reassessing over 700 waterfront properties, in some cases increasing assessments by 30 percent. The reassessment and reaction to it revealed a serious problem with Cicero's assessments; the committee noted that some properties had not been reassessed in nearly two decades. That meant that some houses were woefully under-assessed, while others were over-assessed.

The town-wide revaluation by GAR Associates will be overseen by the town's new assessor, Brad Brennan, who is also the assessor for the town of Salina.

GAR Associates has been performing real estate valuations for over 35 years, working with mortgage companies, banks, attorneys, accounting firms and town, county and state agencies. The majority of the towns they have worked with are in Western New York.

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