City (Geneva) gets ready for reassessment

GENEVA — Mention the word “reassessment,” and some taxpayers will shudder.

They assume it means higher property taxes.

That’s not the case, Assistant City Manager Adam Blowers told City Council last week.

Blowers said an equalization rate of 93 percent means someproperty owners are under-assessed, and it means others are picking up the tab for the shortfall.

An equalization rate is the assessed value of the real property in a municipality as determined by the local assessor divided by the state’s appraised value of that same real property.

A 100 percent equalization rate, Blowers told Council, is more equitable for all.

Council ultimately agreed, unanimously approving a citywide reassessment for the 2020 tax roll.

Additionally, said Blowers, who also serves as the city’s comptroller, if the equalization rate tumbles under 90 percent because a reassessment is delayed, the cost of the project will go up. Additional expenses would include sending tax-impact notices to every city property owner, he explained.

City Attorney Emil Bove said the state’s real property tax law requires that property be assessed at 100 percent of market value, and a reassessment, or revaluation as some governments call it, helps ensure assessments reflect market values.

Blowers said the city real estate market is in good shape, with sale prices showing strong increases.

“It is best practice to reassess properties every three to five years,” he said Monday following Council approval. “We are currently right in the middle of that threshold, and now that our state equalization rate is below 100 percent, it’s the right time to reassess the city’s properties.”

The project, which by state law needed Council approval, will be led by City Assessor Stephen Pigeon, who also serves as assessor of the city of Canandaigua under a service-sharing agreement between the two municipalities.

“It is important to do a citywide reassessment to keep the rolls equitable,” Pigeon said. “The reassessment project will be done in-house and with support from the Ontario County Real Property office.”

Blowers said the “only cost will be for mailings and any extra work for notifications.”

Published in The Finger Lakes Times July 17, 2019

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