Residents in Spafford are up in arms over their newest property assessments, some of which are as high as 600 percent more than the previous assessment.
Approximately 80 taxpayers with waterfront and inland property packed Spafford Town Hall Thursday June 4 during the town board's regular meeting to try to get answers as to the dramatic increase.
Resident John Kellogg said he's reached out to officials at the state level who have said they cannot do anything to change what the assessments are and are "throwing it back, saying you [the town board] can do something. I'm begging you to do something."
Kellogg's assessment was increased 600 percent and that state officials are telling him they can't do anything because of the laws in the rural town.
"I've been told we can't do anything about this," said Supervisor Webb Stevens.
The hired assessor, Larry Fitz, was under contractual obligation with the town to complete the assessments and it was determined that he physically inspect all properties for revaluation.
It was alleged by several taxpayers at the meeting that Fitz had not physically examined their properties, some saying he came to his conclusions based on outdated photographs of their land and homes.
According to Stevens, Fitz completed the assessments in March and has received 90 percent of the $40,000 he was contracted for.
"I don't want you people to think I'm not interested in what you people have to say," Stevens said. "I'll look into it."
Frustrated, many residents cited research they had performed about what could be done and suggestions ranged from rolling back the assessments to previous levels, increasing taxes to cover expenses and searching for another assessor who will better reflect the values of properties.
"What will you do? What can you do?" resident Brian Purcell asked the board. "We know you're not appraisers, assessors, but you can change things."
Stevens said he would contact Hiscock and Barclay to bring a tax attorney and try to have a state representative with knowledge about assessments attend a special meeting this week at Town Hall. The meeting has tentatively been scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday June 9.