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Citywide reassessment won't be done until 2009

A general property reassessment is coming in the city, but not until 2008.

City Assessor Peter J. Galarneau said this week he will not carry out a reassessment program this year.

Galarneau, who took the city post in October, said state appraisers need more lead time to develop fresh valuations for utility property in Lockport.

He said he doesn't think he should move ahead on doing homes and businesses separately before the June 1 date to file a new tax roll.

"We're not going to try to develop new values this year," Galarneau said. "It would just be rushing things, and we'd be right back where we started."

That was an apparent reference to last year's assessment controversy that led to the resignation under fire of Galarneau's predecessor, Vincent M. Smith.

Smith had reassessed 3,067 properties, about a third of the parcels in the city, and many saw hefty increases. Public protests led city officials to put the heat on Smith, who resigned May 31.

Five days before that, Mayor Michael W. Tucker had announced that all of Smith's new values were to be rolled back 40 percent. When Smith resigned, Tucker announced the new values were canceled completely.

That meant the city was no longer rated by the state Office of Real Property Tax Services as being assessed at full market value.

Its equalization rate of 94 percent led to the city becoming one of only municipalities in Niagara County to see an increase in county taxes for 2007. County tax rates fell in 16 other communities.

Tucker said that when Galarneau started in October, he asked the new assessor for a reorganization plan for the department. The mayor indicated that is still going on.

"He feels he won't be ready [for a revaluation] in '07," Tucker said. "I'd rather have a reval in '07, but the most important thing is to have it correct. It's a large-scale project."


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