Residents Question NF Reassessment Plan

Concerns raised over possible reassessment

Niagara Falls, NY -  Some Niagara Falls officials say the plan to conduct a city-wide reassessment is a way to guarantee fairness and equity. But some residents say it's just another way of hiking taxes significantly and they won't stand for it.  

Niagara Falls City officials say the last citywide assessment was back in 2002. And they add that in these times of rising house prices, it's a process that's long overdue in the Cataract City.  
 
City Council heard Tuesday night from staffers working for an assessment contractor. All this while some residents are organizing a campaign with plenty of opposition signs on lawns and sprinkled throughout neighborhoods.
 
Council leaders say some small businesses are currently hard hit with the a burden which hurts development in Niagara Falls.

But residents, especially in the Lasalle and Devault neighborhoods, counter that those with small homes and seniors will also take a big hit with additional concerns their county and school taxes could go up as well if assessments are raised. 

"The assessment itself is not really a revenue generator. What happens is the tax base, or the tax levy, doesn't change. So the $27-million we bring in will not change. It's just evenly distributed amongst the residents of Niagara Falls," says Council President Andrew Touma.

2 On Your Side's Ron Plants asked, "Some rates are bound to go up aren't they?"  
 
"Some are. We're projecting a third of those homes will probably see an increase in their assessment, a third will go down, and a third will stay the same," said Touma.
 
Maribeth Gangloff is one of the residents raising serious questions about the need for reassessments.  
 
"I have been hearing for decades that we need to bring, to equalize the tax rates between business and residential. They haven't done it yet. And they're not going to do it. This is nothing more but a ploy to get more tax money. And we've had it. We've had it," she says.
 
Niagara Falls taxpayers packed Niagara Falls City Hall Tuesday night with concerns over a possible citywide reassessment.

"Where I live right now, I'll be honest with you, I'm paying $14,000 a year taxes and if I raise up another five grand, I'm selling my house and I'm leaving the city,” says resident Robert Burns.
 
"Every day, some parcels are becoming worth more on the market, some are becoming worth less. If you go 14 years without readjusting it, it means that some people are really, really underpaying their taxes and others are really overpaying their taxes, so you do a reassessment in order to make it fair to even it out. It does not increase the total amount of money that's available to the city to run the city," says Mayor Paul Dyster.
 
Touma says the city-wide assessment could cost $800,000, and he is seeking a unified vote by council and the Mayor when they vote on this issue. A vote isn't expected any time soon.
 
The Mayor says the rest of this year will be spent listening to taxpayers and assessment experts and that a citywide reassessment would take a couple of years to finish.


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