Whitehall readies town reassessment

Whitehall properties were last assessed to 100% in 2007 and the time has come to reassess again.

Roberta Stone, hired as town assessor last year, will begin home assessments in 2023. Board supervisor John Rozell informed the board of the reassessment.

“I would like the town board to start thinking about whether or not they would like a reassessment in 2023,” Rozell read from Stone’s report to the board.

In 2007, it was roughly $5 a parcel for assessment but now according to Stone the prices on a parcel can range from $55 to $75, depending on the extent of one’s needs. The state does not mandate when towns do reassessments, but it does mandate that assessments be done on a uniform percent value.

“Right now, Whitehall has a uniform percent of 94.5 and it would be easier for her (Stone) to reassess now than to wait for the lower uniform percent of the value because she won’t be able to do it alone and the town would need to hire an outside company to help,” Rozell said.

According to Stone, there are different reasons why the assessment needs to be completed. Not only to save the town’s money, but Stone can also bring the Whitehall assessment roll back to 100% then 94.5%, where it sits right now.

“Assessment changes along with the market changes allow for an equitable low, fewer grievances in the future, a stable tax rate with minimal tax shifts, improved bond rating, an increase of state rating assessment, and possible state aid,” Rozell read.

Board members Chris Dudley and Tim Kingsley expressed hesitance toward the idea of a reassessment of the recent inflation of markets. They both wondered if now would be the proper time to do it or hold off a little longer.

“One of the towns that is in the process of reassessing, it has cost them over $100,000 for the actual reassessment fees,” said town clerk Patti Gordon.

When the board asked about reassessing during the peak of the market, Stone said the assessment would be able to give homeowners their true value. She said she has seen houses under-assessed to over-assessed and she would be able to get the work done without outside help at this point.

“In hearing her say some people are under and some people are over, I’ve never been a fan of someone paying too much, it should be balanced,” said board member Stephanie Safka. “Some people are going to be affected negatively and some people are going to be affected positively.”

Town clerk Gordon has worked with Stone over the past year and explained that the reassessment is like checking Whitehall’s inventory and that it could bring more state aid to Whitehall. Town lawyer Erika Stellar-Ryan was present at the meeting and explained a common misconception when it comes to reassessment done by GAR Associates and homeowners.

“When GAR sent people their new assessed value last year for other areas, they said this is your estimated tax bill so a lot of people, like in Easton for example, a lot of their assessments doubled, and they said your taxes are going to double… In reality, that’s not the case,” she said.

“If you take a place like Easton and their land becomes significantly more valuable and everyone’s taxes go up, your budget for the year is already set and you can’t go over a two percent increase. It’s simply that the price per thousand goes down.”

The tie vote to table the discussion and pick it up next month was broken by Rozell after board members Dudley and Kingsley voted against the reassessment while Dave Hollister and Safka voted in favor. The next meeting will be held on Aug. 17 at 7 p.m.