City assessor says it makes more sense to homeowners.
After 10- and 11-year gaps between assessments, city officials are considering contracting with GAR Associates for a yearly revaluation of Lockport’s property values.
As letters explaining proposed property values came in the mail, homeowners came to the city’s meetings objecting that their homes’ appraisals far exceeded the proposed value. At one point 3rd Ward Alderman Mark Devine suggested the work of GAR Associates – which cost the city $400,000 – be undone and to keep the existing assessment roll in place. His proposal was ejected 4-2 in March.
City Assessor Tracy Farrell said that a yearly revaluation will make more sense for all homeowners because it will maintain an equalization rate as close to 100% as possible.
“We have come a long way for a 100% fair market value,” Farrell said. “We have to maintain it.”
Farrell was echoed by Mayor Michelle Roman.
“I think maintaining 100% equalization rate is the most fair for all property owners. It also allows for market adjustments in real time,” Roman said. “The city cannot afford to let it go 10 years between assessment updates.”
Common Council President Paul Beakman talked about the gaps, as well, saying that a yearly assessment will take the sting out of the “sticker price” for many homeowners, including himself whose assessment had tripled.
“I worry that people are overpaying for homes and we’re being punished for it,” Beakman said, “and there’s nothing we can do about it, but at least we can take the sting out of it by reassessing every year.”
Beakman noted by doing the assessments annually, residents will be able to pay for what their property is worth, every year. If there is a market crash, he said, we can at least see that reflected in our assessments.
The yearly assessments would work like this, according to Farrell. GAR Associates will be paid $40,000 to gather information for its system models, she said. These models take many factors into account including how many bedrooms and baths, land size, square footage and will be divided by neighborhood to determine estimated values.
Her office will also be taking on more work in the informal challenges of each assessment, she said.
Farrell also noted that just because there are yearly assessments, it doesn’t mean everyone will be happy.
“People need to sit down and figure out what they’d sell their houses for,” she said. “Or what they would accept.”