Frustrated Richmondville taxpayers may get some satisfaction when the town board meets with Assessor Matthew Richardson in a work session planned for next week.
Councilmen scheduled the session, set for the 21st at 7pm, after hearing property owners complain about unequal assessments at the town board meeting last Thursday.
Residents have repeatedly complained about assessments, as have members of Richmondville’s Board of Assessment Review.
Thursday’s meeting was no different, with about 50 property owners present.
“He should and must answer,” Horst Fierek told the town board. “You must develop a backbone for the people.”
Mr. Fierek is a BAR member but said he was speaking as a property owner. The assessment on his Route 10 property would rise $125,000 this year, according to new assessment rolls.
“Why can’t you force the assessor to come here?” he asked, noting that Mr. Richardson didn’t attend the meeting.
Defending Mr. Richardson, Councilman Roy Bilby said the assessor uses sales and a sliding scale to determine land values.
“It makes a lot of sense,” Mr. Bilby added.
But BAR member Vern Hall responded that there were no comparable property sales in Richmondville to justify a $125,000 increase on Mr. Fierek’s property.
Others maintained that high assessments result in Richmondville property owners paying more than their share of school and county taxes compared with neighboring towns.
“Why are we still at 100 percent of market value when other towns aren’t?” Bob Peck asked.
Resident Kevin Willoughby said the assessment on his property rose five times since he bought it seven and a half years ago.
“It may put me out of house and home,” he said.
Another woman agreed.
“We have two people working in our household, and we still can’t support the household,” she said.
Supervisor John Barlow said he met last Wednesday with Senator Jim Seward, Assemblyman Pete Lopez and David Williams of the state Office of Real Property Tax Services.
Mr. Williams told him that “sales in Richmondville were up and bringing a premium” because of the town’s proximity to I-88 and two interstate exits, Mr. Barlow said.
Residents didn’t agree and insisted that councilmen meet with Mr. Richardson to get an explanation about his assessment practices.
“Have you forgotten that you were elected by the people, for the people?” Mr. Fierek asked the board.
Property owners also wanted the work session scheduled before grievance day, which is May 29, when they go before the BAR to formally protest assessments.
Mr. Barlow then set the May 21 work session but cautioned that because it will be a work session and not a meeting, there will be no public input.