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With town assessor about to retire, Amherst revaluations may be placed on hold

That revaluation planned for the Town of Amherst may have to wait.

Assessor Ann M. Terranova informed town officials last week that she plans to retire July 30, which may determine whether Amherst moves ahead with the townwide revaluation as originally planned. While the town intended to hire a consultant to help reassess the town’s 44,000 parcels by March 1, 2016, Supervisor Barry A. Weinstein is hesitant to go forward without a town assessor in place.

“I don’t know what to expect right now,” Weinstein said. “I’ve asked the human resources director to start the search for an assessor. If we don’t find an assessor and she retires, I don’t have a backup plan.”

Terranova could not be reached to comment Tuesday.

The other issue is that the town did not budget money this year to conduct a revaluation, a proposal that surfaced only in recent weeks, the supervisor said. Real estate appraisers GAR Associates and KLW Group submitted bids of $625,000 to $650,000 to help perform the appraisal work for Amherst and bring property values back up to 100 percent, he said.

“I didn’t anticipate spending $625,000, and I’m not sure it’s worth it,” Weinstein said. “If we’re valued at 95 percent, it’s not the end of the world.”

Amherst officials have been discussing since March how best to deal with a hot housing market in parts of Amherst where homes are selling for far more than what they’re assessed by the town. Amherst originally planned to update the values of more than 12,000 residential properties this year – double what the town would normally do in a year.

However, after further discussion and analysis of recent home sales, town officials realized that the job was going to be even bigger than anticipated. Amherst decided to conduct a townwide revaluation to ensure that all parcels are assessed at what they are really worth so everyone pays a fair share of taxes.

In the meantime, assessments were subjected to a 97 percent equalization rate this year.