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Foisting A 300% Property Assessment Hike Is Very Unfair

We understand the sticker shock some town of Chautauqua residents are feeling.

It’s hard to look at our local economy and justify how a property tax assessment on a swamp can increase more than 300% from one day to the next. Of course, the property in question didn’t appreciate that value on its own. The new assessment reflects buyers of neighboring or similar properties spending a lot of money on their properties, which increases the value of the entire neighborhood.

That doesn’t make the potential increased tax bill on 37 acres of swamp whose value has appreciated 300% from one day to the next any easier for the property owner who probably can’t sell the property for its new assessed value.

Taxpayers can grieve their assessments before a Board of Assessment Review — and it’s a safe bet some taxpayers will use that process.

It would also be helpful if property reassessments happened more frequently. The open land and commercial assessments in Chautauqua hadn’t been updated since 2006 — which sets the stage for the sticker shock Chautauqua residents are feeling now. Property reassessments are complicated and costly undertakings, however, especially for towns that often share assessors to save money.

There is an old adage that property reassessments lower about one-third of a municipality’s property assessments, one-third stay the same and one-third increase. It’s a lovely platitude, but when towns and villages can’t do reassessments on a regular basis the reassessment platitude does nothing to address the shock of an assessment that increases 300%.

Regular reassessments are needed and it’s a cost local governments must find a way to bear one way or another. After all, foisting a 300% property assessment increase is absolutely unfair any way one looks at it.

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