March 31st was the cutoff for submitting the informal review applications. The Assessor's office will now be reviewing them. In an effort to give as many property owners a chance to have their issues heard before Grievance Day, we will continue to accept applications. They will be date stamped and reviewed on a first come basis. We will review as many as we possibly can. We will contact property owners whose application we did not get to, to let them know that they will have to submit their grievance to the Board of Assessment Review on May 26th.
REVALUATION PROJECT UPDATE
EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY ... In an effort to minimize exposure due to the on-going health pandemic Town Hall is now closed to the public. Please call 1-866-910-1776 with any questions regarding your new preliminary assessed value or the informal review process.
Informal Review Applications can either be mailed to:
21 Central Avenue
Lancaster, NY 14086
or there is a drop box by the door off of Clark Street .
For those who have underlying health condition, the supervisors has made town employees available to pick up your informal review applications. No contact will be made; forms will be left outside for employees to pick up. Please contact the assessor's office at (716) 683-1311 to make arrangements for your application to be picked up.
The March 31st deadline is a deadline for informal assistance to our residence. If we extend this deadline, then we won't meet the deadline set by NYS to file the tentative roll of May 1st. This informal review process is NOT mandated by state law. They are offered as a courtesy to our property owners to have their issues and concerns addressed; basically to give them every chance possible to address those issues. If you call 683-1311 someone in the office can walk you through the process for this informal review. We understand the current health concerns, so if you are unable to leave your home the informal review application can be mailed in, faxed, emailed or put into a drop box outside the building so you can avoid any contact with people. Please keep in mind that NOTHING HAS to be done by the 31st, especially for those who are even more at risk than the norm. This is the cutoff date for the INFORMAL review. The elderly are not being forced to leave their homes, there are no hearings scheduled in March or April. If you are unable to get the informal review completed by March 31st and you feel there is additional information that the Assessor should consider which would directly affect the selling price of your property, there is the next step in the process, which is the Board of Assessment Review on May 26th. You SHOULD call for an appointment the first week in May (just so you don't have to sit and wait for an opening). You can present your concerns at that point and challenge your assessment then. This process IS mandated by the state. The Board of Assessment Review MUST hear every case that is submitted by 5 pm on May 26th. If there is an executive order that changes that date we will deal with that in the future and get the word out, but right now that is still on.
Regarding the cancellation or postponement of the project - this would NOT be in the best interest of the property owners of Lancaster for the following reasons:
1. MOST IMPORTANTLY .... Notices have already been mailed ... and people know if they are potentially going to see a reduction in taxes. VERY UNFAIR TO THEM TO PAY MORE THAN THEY HAVE TO FOR ANOTHER TAX CYCLE ... about 50% of the properties.
2. The equalization rate will drop even lower than last year's value of 77% .. predicting about 72% ... meaning higher tax rates.
3. Many exemption values will continue to decrease as a result of the lower equalization rate.
4. We have already spent the money and the project is really complete ... we are just fine tuning it now.
5. We would still have to increase assessments for the physical changes (new construction) that were completed.
6. We would have to send out all 19,205 notices again with the old assessment, informing residents that this is the 2020 assessment.
7. There has been really NO impact to those wishing to file an informal review. The law states we don't have to offer these. The Board of Assessment Review will be held and that is where people can go to file their grievance. This is not scheduled until May 26th, giving them lot of time. Property owners will have had almost a month to file the informal review application. There are multiple ways to submit the application without coming in contact with anyone.
8. If we postpone until next year we have to either:
a. Include another year's worth of sales, analyze, build new models, create new values, send out new notices, etc. This all costs money and there is absolutely no evidence that property values are decreasing, as a matter of fact, the sales that have occurred after July 1, 2019 (the cutoff useable sales for this project) are coming in even higher OR
b. Use this year's value, but then we wouldn't get state aid, because we didn't include the additional year's sales and we would most likely not be at 100%. Probably more like 95%, which again affects exemptions, sales tax review, etc.
It REALLY IS IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE TOWN TO MOVE FORWARD :
If next year we notice that the health crisis has had a profound impact on property values, it can be addressed then. But, as of now, homes are still selling for more than the assessments. The new values that everyone received are meant to reflect property values as of July 1, 2019. That is mandated by the state
So please don't worry. Your specific issues will be addressed. Please call the Assessor's office at 683 - 1311 and let them know how we can help you.
The new 2020 assessment have been mailed. Please see the above link for questions regarding the revaluation process.
Click Here to view the 2019 final assessment roll