The Boston residents who overflowed the courtroom where their Town Board meets got advice from a former assessor Wednesday night on how to fight the increases resulting from the town's revaluation.
The former assessor was Town Supervisor William Eagan, who was also doing his best to fend off criticism of the board for giving the OK last year for $85,000 to fund the reval.
The Town Hall's parking lot was filled and people were standing in the hall as resident after resident came to the microphone to express dismay over the reval procedure and -- usually -- their increased assessments.
Eagan told them to schedule an appointment in Town Hall with a representative of TSL, the Buffalo company contracted to come up with the figures, if they didn't agree with their new assessments.
The deadline to schedule a meeting was originally Wednesday, but that has been extended. Meetings are already fully booked through May 5. Residents were urged to call for appointments as soon as possible.
"If any of you go before any of the bodies that can review your assessment, before I would volunteer any information ask them what comparable sales they used to compare your properties to," he said.
"Ask them what is the information they have in their files on your property, and compare that."
Eagan also told residents to note such things as landlocked vacant land, topography that might make the land unusable and to make use of any recent appraisals or attempts to sell the property.
"If you have the real estate listings, you can say, 'I couldn't sell it for $150,000 or $200,000,' " Eagan said. "That's a strong instrument in your favor."
Eagan said the town would delay whatever deadlines it legally is allowed to, and that it will prepare a checklist for residents who want to challenge the extensions.
Even if they don't meet with TSL representatives, they can still schedule a meeting with Assessor Thelma Hornberger or her staff later.
They can also take it to the Board of Assessment Review after that, even if they haven't taken either of the two other steps.
The deadline for that is near the start of June.
In a nod to the angry crowd in attendance at the start of the meeting, a local pastor prayed for civility during the benediction.
It may have helped. Frustrated residents kept their cool as they voiced their displeasure.
One said her 150-year-old house with 29 acres had nearly tripled in assessment, from $86,000 to $236,000.
Resident Carol Ball said, "I don't think they took into account when they reassessed our property that we have a spring running through our basement."
The problem, board members said, is that the townwide revaluation is by definition a mass reassessment of the town. Boston is paying TSL to try to get assessments up to 100 percent of market value.
The level had dropped to about 60 percent, which meant that homes worth $100,000 were being assessed at $60,000.
While the formula can be confusing, one of the results of the revaluation is that any property which saw its assessment go up by 66 percent or less will actually end up paying less in taxes, provided the town, county and school tax levies stay the same.
Councilman Dennis Mead said the town hadn't been entirely happy with TSLand the board plans to meet with the contractor.