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CITY HIRES FIRM TO REASSESS PROPERTIES

After a lapse of more than a decade, properties in the City of Lackawanna are going to be reassessed.

The City Council voted unanimously Monday to award a contract for the job to GAR Associates, an Amherst-based firm. The state's Office of Real Property Services will assist.

Work is expected to start "very quickly," according to Council President Ronald Spadone.

While many municipalities in Erie County have committed in recent years to annual reassessment plans, it hasn't been done in Lackawanna since 1988, officials said. "This is the fault of the past administrations who haven't done it," Spadone said.

There's a financial incentive to do it, as well: The state will pay Lackawanna an amount per parcel, which will offset some of the costs of the work.

But the city faces another serious issue, Spadone said.

"We have the problem of homestead and nonhomestead, which is a major problem for us," he said.

It boils down to businesses bearing more than their share of property taxes. And in the case of the former Lackawanna Steel Corp. site, the city stands to lose big in the court challenge of the sprawling site's $37 million assessment -- which generates $1.1 million in tax revenue annually.

Of the pending citywide reassessment, Spadone said: "I'm sure some of the values will go up and some will go down."

Also at Monday's meeting, a couple of residents had kind words about municipal projects in their neighborhoods.

Faith Gordon of Elkhart Street had good things to say about a paving project.

"The company that you hired should be commended. They did a fabulous job," she said. "The street is absolutely amazing. They did it with very little disruption."

Gordon was especially complimentary about the attention given to residents' property. "They really did a great job in putting the lawns back into the condition they were," she said.

Joseph Carcione of Ludel Terrace had kudos for maintenance this summer of a neighborhood playground, noting that it was kept free of garbage and the grass was kept trimmed.

Its condition this year has been about the best in his several years of living there, he said.

e-mail: jhabuda@buffnews.com

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