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Full reassessment of City of Tonawanda properties will begin in April

Reassessment teams are set to head out into the City of Tonawanda in April, according to City Assessor Judy Tafelski.

The full assessment of approximately 6,000 properties is expected to be completed by May 2018, she said.

The city last year was at 98 percent of full market value, but that rate has dropped in the past year to 90 percent. Tafelski said a reassessment was "clearly needed" with sales prices higher than the assessed values.

"It's a healthy thing for the city," said Tafelski of the rising property values. "This is why we do reassessments. It's all about being fair."

First Ward Councilor Chuck Gilbert questioned the claim of a five-year reassessment cycle, noting that he's owned his house for 12 years and this will be his third reassessment. He said his taxes were rising with each reassessment as well. Tafelski said they are closer to a four-year cycle to keep up with the rising property values. Tafelski, is also the assessor for Grand Island and the Town of Tonawanda said Grand Island just completed its reassessments, but the last reassessment in the Town of Tonawanda was in 1986.

City Treasurer Joseph Hogenkamp said the reassessments are not about tax rates, but about "cutting up the pie." He said it's the city that decides how much to spend and that is what affects the tax rate and potential rising taxes.

But Tafelski said they don't want anyone to be uninformed and have planned a public presentation, slide show and video on how to challenge an assessment at 6 p.m. April 27 in City Hall, 200 Niagara St. She said once the assessments are completed, there will be informal hearings at the senior center and there will also be a remote system to challenge assessment via Skype. The formal challenges will be heard by a grievance board and the final step will be an attorney mediated hearing, she said.

"It's a very fair, generic process," said Tafelski.

Tafelski met with the Common Council Tuesday to give an update on the plan, which was approved by the Council earlier this month. The Common Council voted to spend $110,000 to hire Emminger, Newton, Pegon and Magyer Inc. to conduct a citywide reassessment.




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