Spafford: Resident sheds light on error

Residents in the town of Spafford packed the town hall for the second time in a week.

The group of more than 80 taxpayers gathered June 9 for a special meeting called by the town board to help shed some light on the assessment situation. In doing so, Aaron Lesch-VonRandall, a real property analyst with the New York State Office of Real Property Services, was invited to talk to the group.

"This is not a public hearing. It is an informational meeting, not a place to handle a grievance," Supervisor Webb Stevens said before Lesch-VonRandall's presentation began.

According to Lesch-VonRandall, the reassessment recently completed was originally slated for 2008. However, town assessor Kim Stone-Gridley "took it upon herself to put the brakes on" because corrections needed to be made to the inventory rolls before the new assessment could begin.

The valuation period for the 2009 roll was June 30, 2006 to July 1, 2008.

"It's too hard for assessors to know what the market value is right now," Lesch-VonRandall said.

The goal of a reassessment is to promote equity and for the town to reach its full value by bringing the town to an equalization rate of 100 percent, Lesch-VonRandall said.

"The town assessor decides what percentage of value to assess at," he said.

In Spafford, 1,056 residential parcels were assessed and each received an estimated tax bill based on the previous year's levy. Overall 330 parcels showed more than a 10 percent increase, 223 parcels with basically no change and 503 parcels seeing more than a 10 percent drop in estimated tax dollars.

The tentative assessment roll for 2009 had a total assessed value of $416,277,349 and the town did, in essence, double in value since the last revaluation.

"Not all individual assessments may be correct," Lesch-VonRandall said.

For residents who think their assessment is wrong, there are steps that can be taken toward rectifying any problem they see beginning with attending grievance day, then moving on to small claims assessment court if they are not happy still after grieving.

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