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Spafford prepares for town-wide property reassessment

— Each year, as the housing market fluctuates, so do equalization rates.

Like many other towns, Spafford is no stranger to the highs and lows in the market, but now the town’s equalization rate is taking a hit having reached 114.55 percent. Just two years ago, the town was remaining steady at 100 percent after leveling the playing field in 2008. At that time, a town-wide revaluation was performed to bring the equalization rate back to 100 percent from the lowest it had been in nearly a decade — 63 percent.

“As all of you are aware, our equalization rate is now at 115 percent,” Supervisor Webb Stevens said to those attending the Aug. 9 town board meeting, adding that only a handful of towns in New York have equalization rates as high as Spafford. “We feel a midcourse correction is needed at this time to bring us as close to 100 percent as possible.”

To help residents understand what needs to be done to get back to 100 percent, Aaron Lesch-VonRandall and Kristina Nunez, both of the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance Office of Real Property Tax Services in Syracuse, attended the meeting.

According to Lesch-VonRandall, by law, every property in a municipality has to be assessed at the same percentage. In order to find the town’s equalization rate, the total assessed value of the municipality is divided by the total market value.

“It’s a good measure of the town, but not of any individual property,” he said, adding it is not, however, a measure of uniformity.

By correcting the equalization rate, the town would essentially be giving each property in the municipality a clean slate. In order to calculate values, town Assessor Kim Stone-Gridley will need to visit each of the 1,879 properties in Spafford and bring everybody to 100 percent.

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