The Allegany Town Board moved its monthly meeting to the highway barns Thursday night to accommodate more than 100 residents who came to complain about property assessments after a townwide revaluation completed last year.
Assessor Marsha Painter had mailed notices to property owners who will see an increase based on recent home sales in the town and the village.
Twenty-eight people attended an informational meeting Wednesday night with representatives of GAR Associates of Amherst, the contractor hired by the town to perform the revaluation and the recent reassessment as part of an effort to keep values at 100 percent. Property owners also can meet with Painter for informal discussions about their assessments through the second week in May, prior to a formal Grievance Day on May 24.
During Thursday's meeting, homebuilders Jason Crisafulli of Kinley Corp. and Kyle Duggan of Duggan & Duggan complained their clients are not ordering new construction for fear of high taxes and because the assessor can't predict what taxes will be after homes are built.
Painter did not attend the meeting. Cindy Baire and Walter R. Allen of GAR answered questions about the process, but could provide no specific information other than pointing to home sales as a factor.
"We want to go in and generate tax revenues. What are we paying the lady for?" Duggan asked board members after the GAR team departed. "We can't answer our customers' questions with an 'I don't know' and still expect to have a job."
Crisafulli said the new assessments have "killed" development in the town, noting 20 new residences were under construction a year ago, but only two building permits have been issued so far in 2005.
Several residents complained that their assessments were not lowered last year following meetings with GAR Associates, suggesting they had been raised by the assessor after property owners thought the matter was settled. Others complained they had not received new assessments from last year's revaluation and have not been given answers to questions posed to the assessor.
A real estate saleswoman said she knew assessments had been raised in two cases after homes sold for more money than the assessed value. Others said they are trying to sell their homes because they fear having taxes raised repeatedly.
Several people asked the board to invalidate the assessments and get rid of the assessor, accusing the officials with trying to run property owners out of town.
Town Board Member John McMullen told the residents that the new assessments are expected to add $10 million to the town's assessed value.
After more than an hour of comments, property owner Judy Peck insisted the board give the people "something concrete" to hang onto.
Supervisor Patrick Eaton promised a report at the May 12 meeting and asked taxpayers with documents and specific complaints about their assessments to put them in writing for referral to the town attorney. Complaints about Painter will be sent to the Personnel Committee.