Salina Town Supervisor Colleen Gunnip said she favors continuing property-tax reassessments in the village of Liverpool despite protests from the village’s board of trustees.
“We’ve already done the rest of the town,” Gunnip said on April 9. “We have to fairly and equitably oversee the distribution of the tax levy.”
For instance, she said, it would be unfair for a Galeville homeowner who has already been reassessed if reassessments are delayed for Liverpool homeowners.
Gunnip and Tax Assessor Denise Trudell declined to discuss the percentage of increases so far across the town.
“Denise is still reviewing all the data,” Gunnip said.
At a special meeting on April 1, village of Liverpool trustees unanimously passed a resolution requesting that the town suspend its ongoing reassessments of real property within the village until after the COVID-19 pandemic has run its course.
“We believe in fairness,” wrote Trustee Christina Fadden, “but unfortunately the revolving assessment process through segments of the town means that once it is a community’s ‘turn,’ the jump in values can be dramatic, and a shock to a household’s finances or a business’s costs.”
Fadden shared her observations in an April 2 letter to state Sen. Rachel May (D-53rd District).
The trustees’ April 1 resolution – posted in its entirety at villageofliverpool.org – was offered by Trustee Jason Recor and seconded by Fadden.
Trustees Matt Devendorf and Michael LaMontagne and Mayor Gary White completed the unanimous approval.
Five days later, on April 6, White and Gunnip shared a conference call also including Trudell, at which the town officials insisted that the reassessment process would continue.
“I just think it’s inexcusable what they’re doing,” White said at the time.
The issue would be discussed along with Trudell at the next town board meeting on Monday, April 13, Gunnip said.
Trudell is a state-certified assessor with 30 years of experience. She heads an office that also includes appraiser Marc DiCerbo and his aide, Tom Cardinal. Trudell has worked as a tax assessor in Jefferson County and in at least 10 different Upstate towns, including Lewis, Montague, Osceola and Salina. She lives in Williamstown.
‘Higher tax burden’
The village resolution argues that “said reassessments/revaluations will result in a higher real property tax assessment for many properties within the Village of Liverpool and a higher tax burden.”
White expressed two primary concerns:
- senior citizen residents on fixed incomes and
- commercial properties housing businesses now closed due to the pandemic.
“We have quite a few elderly homeowners in the village who will find it difficult to deal with raised property taxes,” he said. “And with so many businesses closed now, those closures have significant impact on the fair market value of these businesses and properties that won’t be accurately reflected in the revaluation process.”
“Many homeowners and businesses in the village will be asking whether their property truly is the value they will be told, when other assets have taken a dramatic downturn in value during this extraordinary pandemic crisis, and businesses are closed or operating at a severely reduced level,” she wrote.
But the town resists the calls for reconsideration. After checking in with several other area municipalities and with county officials, Gunnip said she found most municipalities moving ahead with their reassessments.
As to residents’ right to grieve their reassessments, Gunnip said that new technologies should make that process quick and easy.
But White thinks otherwise.
“Here in the village we have many senior citizens, some of whom don’t have computers or smart phones,” he said. “These residents will have a hard time grieving their assessments.”
Gunnip expects the reassessments to be completed by May 1, and grievance day is scheduled for May 26, the fourth Tuesday of that month.
Posted by Eagle News Online