Jamestown City Council members expressed concern over the timing for a proposed revaluation of properties in the City.
Council heard a presentation from City Assessor Lisa Volpe on hiring GAR Associates for $285,000 to do the revaluation. The city last did a reval in 2006, which cost $1 million. At that time, it was the first revaluation done in the city in 30 years. New York State recommends municipalities do a revaluation every 5 years.
Volpe said Appraiser Adam Zarczynski took new photos of all city properties in preparation for a new revalauation, however the property data is now 15 years old and may be deemed outdated enough to be unusable.
She said GAR Associates had originally planned to start the project in January and if the project is started later than March 1, it may not be able to be finished on time, “This would push the start of the project off until January 2023, with a finish date of July 2024. This would make the data we have 18 years old and the new pictures two years old. The further this is delayed we may find the cost is much higher due to the un-usability of the current data and pictures.”
Council members asked if the revaluation could be done in-house versus paying an outside group, but Volpe said that wasn’t possible, “Because New York State has a very narrow amount of time that you can do all 15,000 parcels. And in my department now it’s just me, Adam [Zarczynski], and a part-time secretary, so we couldn’t do all 15,000 parcels in that four month period of time. It’s just impossible. We wouldn’t have the staff to do it.”
Council Member at Large Jeff Russell said he’s heard concerns from residents who in the last couple years have bought houses for well over the assessed value of the property, “Those people are concerned that the City is going to come in and reassess their properties and kind of penalize them, I guess, for overpaying for the properties because of the hot housing market and they’re going to be taxed accordingly.”
Volpe said the tax rate could come down, “The levy would stay the same. And then we’d have more assessed value, so the tax rate would come down. So even if you’re assessed higher, your bill could still be the same or less depending on what the tax rate ends up being.”
Council President Tony Dolce said he was on Council the last time a revaluation was done and said it’s difficult to do it at any time. He said with the concerns by people about doing a revaluation during the Pandemic, he’d like to see the process pushed back six months to a year. Dolce requested Volpe to put together information on how much the cost would change if the city waited a year to do the revaluation.
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