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Web site offers property data

If you're an Amherst homeowner and want all the vital statistics on your property and property tax payments, go to the town's Web site. If you want a list of comparable homes and tax assessment information for any other home in town, go to the town's Web site.

If you just want to know how much your neighbor down the road paid for her house, how deep the backyard is, and get a better sense of how it looks from the street, go to . . . well, you get the picture.

The Town of Amherst boasts one of the most comprehensive and user-friendly property information databases in the region, and possibly the state, said Jerry Galkiewicz, director of information technology.

Galkiewicz and town webmaster Dave Willer gave Town Board members a walk-through demonstration Monday of the Comprehensive Property Information data available through a link on the town's main Web site, www.amherst.ny.us

While the town was first in the area to put basic assessment information online years ago, they said, the Office of Information Technology has been steadily improving the amount of data and accessibility provided.

"We tried to make it as comprehensive as we could for the residents," Galkiewicz said.

The information now available online will be important to anyone interested in challenging their assessments after the townwide preliminary revaluation of properties is completed within the coming weeks.

With just a few mouse clicks, residents can find out how to go about challenging their assessments, look up all comparable property values in town and print out pictures of the properties.

It would have been difficult, if not impossible, to do this several years ago. Even though the Web site has offered property and assessment data, as well as property mapping capabilities, for some time, none of the information was linked together on the Web site prior to its redesign in October.

Information about comparable property values is one of the newer features of the database, as well as greater ease of access, Willer said.

The town received an $11,700 state grant in 2007 that enabled the town's staff to update its online property information. Most of that work was completed in the fall.

"It was a massive undertaking," Willer said.

Property information is routinely updated, but assessment information is currently frozen until KLW Assessment is finished with its initial appraisal process. When that information becomes available, Willer said, the town's online property database will be updated, and a notice will appear on the Amherst home page.

In addition, Highway Superintendent Robert N. Anderson told the Town Board that he believes there are benefits to folding the Refuse Control Division into the Highway Department, though the volume of complaints could increase. He also questioned whether residents were being properly charged for replacement trash totes and recycling bins, suggesting that the town might be giving them away in circumstances where there should be a charge.

e-mail: stan@buffnews.com

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