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Court appeal considered on assessment reduction

The Town of Hamburg is considering whether to appeal an assessment reduction granted to a steel firm that will cost local governments more than $200,000 in refunds in addition to lower tax payments in the future.

Republic Engineered Products, which was once Bethlehem Steel's 13-inch bar mill, challenged its assessment for 2004 and 2005 in State Supreme Court.

Justice Joseph G. Makowski ruled that a reheat furnace was not taxable equipment and reduced the $9.3 million assessment by $2.2 million for 2004 and by $2.6 million for 2005.

The Frontier Central School District owes a refund of more than $100,000, the county $32,400, the Village of Blasdell $32,500 and the Town of Hamburg $30,900, according to figures obtained from Robert Hutchison, town assessor. Special districts, such as for fire protection and sewers, owe more than $14,000.

Hutchison said Wednesday that the town is considering whether to appeal. The total assessed value of all property in the town increased by $27 million, to $2.44 billion, for 2007. The Village of Hamburg recorded a $2.5 million increase, to $374.4 million, but Blasdell incurred a $1.2 million reduction, to $80.8 million.

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