Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Tax Assessment Review

The Local Board of Assessment Review seems not to be a favorite assignment for Dryden Town Board members. So a slot on the board was happily passed on to me as the newest Town Board member. This morning I met with BAR members from other towns and County Department of Assessment staff for an introduction to the process.

Appraisers at the Department of Assessment have completed the process of calculating fair market value as of July 1, 2005 for all 34,000 properties in Tompkins County based on review of building permits and visual inspections. Analysis of recent sales shows prices to be 10% higher than 2005 assessments. So, if no changes have been made to a property, the fair market value will be increased by 10%. On the other hand, since this is now a three-year valuation, this year's assessment will be 90% of fair market value. The percentage for next year will be determined next year and in 2008 assessment will be 100% of valuation.

The Department of Assessment reports that valuations of 9,000 properties have changed with 7,000 of those being increases. Properties showing greatest changes are lakefront, vacant land and apartment complexes. Taxpayers could have contacted the Department of Assessment at any time prior to March 1 to discusses changes to their property that the department may not be aware of. Now that tentative assessments are complete, property owners may file for a review with the Local Board of Assessment Review which will make recommendations to the County Board of Assessment Review. The Dryden Local Board of Assessment Review, made up of Bambi Hollenbeck, Town Clerk and Town Board member Steve Stellick and myself, will meet May 17 at 3:00 at the Town Hall. The County Board, made up of appointees, primarily realtors and bankers familiar with real estate appraisals, will meet May 23.

Note that the only thing the Assessment Review Boards address is assessment - not tax rates. And, practically speaking, the only aspect of assessment taxpayers can address is the market value of their property. And information most likely to affect valuation is a) physical description of the property or b) recent independent appraisal.

A wealth of assessment information is available on public computers in the Department of Assessment office. You can find the physical inventory of your property that the valuation is based on. You can search for prices of similar properties sold recently. You can access maps showing protected wetlands and unique natural areas. From your home computer you can access Image Mate Basic which gives the most basic information about building style, acreage, and assessment.


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