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TONAWANDA EXPANDS REVIEW BOARD CITY SEEKS TO CLEAR BACKLOG OF GRIEVANCES

Ten new members were appointed to the Tonawanda City Board of Assessment and Review Monday to help dispose of a backlog of grievances resulting from the city's property assessment updates.

The eight new temporary members and two alternates were announced at a special City Council meeting Monday. There had been four members on the assessment review panel. Each new member will serve a year's term.

Expanding the board was one of the recommendations made by state officials to Mayor Alice Allen Roth and City Attorney Joseph J. Cassata on a trip to Albany last week.

Mrs. Roth and Cassata made the trip to discuss the city's assessment problems after several property owners claimed there were inequities in the city's updated assessments.

Almost 500 grievances have been filed so far, and the review board has been meeting four to five hours four nights a week since Jan. 2 to handle the backlog, according to Alderman Jeffrey Sylvester. The board hears about 10 to 15 cases a night, he said. With the new members, city officials hope to have 50 cases heard nightly.

The city is seeking to reduce the backlog so the tentative assessment roll will be completed by the Feb. 15 City Charter deadline.

Mrs. Roth Monday said the enlarged board will actually comprise four groups of three people. State law, she said, requires a minimum of three persons to hear a grievance.

Each of the four permanent board members will head a three-member team, with each team including two temporary members. The temporary members will not have power to lower assessments, but will be allowed to make recommendations, the mayor said. At least one permanent member will have to be present at all hearings, she said.

To be eligible for appointment to the assessment review board, each of the candidates chosen had to possess a background in real estate.

The new board members and the alternates have to be certified by Erie County. They are scheduled to attend a training course this evening given by Dominic Telesco of the county Division of Real Property Tax Services, Mrs. Roth said.

Each of the new members will receive $40 a meeting.

The new members are: Essie and John Heptman, Joseph Hull, Dominic Alongi, Donald Holst, Donald Caruso, Helen Pellitiri, Gregory Ball, Patricia Hall and Mary Grimaldi. It has not been decided yet which of the 10 will be alternates.

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