CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. — Residents in the Town of Cheektowaga returned to council chambers for the second time this week, looking for answers and a solution from the town board on how they plan to put an end to controversial reassessments that seemingly are becoming an annual thing.
Chambers overflowed with residents ready to take to the microphone to, yet again, share their anger, frustration, and concern about what these reassessments could mean when it comes to taxes.
One resident said: "With taxes going up, I can't even finish my house. I'm down to two meals a day, and I don't even go anywhere other than my doctor's appointments because gas is too expensive. You would think that we would be a little bit more intelligent, caring, and compassionate about these assessments for the people who are struggling because of all this inflation."
Another resident said: "This has to be looked at. I mean, there has to be a solution here because these taxes are killing us. And what about the seniors on fixed incomes?"
Yet another resident said: "I'm a man who can provide for his self, and I share what I have extra. I'm proud to give my employees a paycheck too, I'm proud to put food on my table, and I'll be damned if you take that away from me."
On Tuesday, Town Supervisor Diane Benczkowski shared -- referring to her notes from a work session back in February during an exchange with the board and the town's assessor, Jill Murphy -- that she didn't know the reassessments were happening. That's until, like everyone else, she received her notice in the mail not too long ago.
During Thursday's special meeting and second public hearing on the issue, Benczkowski shared even more disappointment, telling 2 On Your Side that things didn't go the way she had hoped in an effort to find a solution.
"The attorney told us because the notices went out May 1, the tentative notices, that we couldn't rescind it. If it was the preliminary notice, that normally go out in March, it would've been fine. It's just too late," Benczkowski explained.
Now residents in the town have only 12 days left to file grievances. That's if they choose to do so.
Accepting their reassessed property value and figuring out how to tackle a possible tax increase, argue their personal case in front of the Assessment Review Board, or try to work with the town assessor in hopes that she might be able to help.
One thing is for sure, Cheektowaga residents aren't the only ones fighting this challenge.