TUPPER LAKE - The Tupper Lake Town Board voted Monday afternoon to borrow money to fund the next property reassessment.
Town Supervisor Roger Amell said the town had planned to fund the reassessment via a line item on property tax bills, but he was recently told this is not legally possible.
The revaluation will be carried out for $198,000 by the KLW group, based in Buffalo. Data will be collected in 2009 and 2010, and the reassessment itself will take place in 2011. KLW has agreed to accept payment over the course of three years.
The board also voted to have Amell sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the state Office of Real Property Services, delineating the responsibilities of the town board, KLW and ORPS in the reassessment.
Dan Lancour of ORPS was present for this, and he told the board it would have to be united behind the revaluation if it is to have any chance of succeeding.
"You're going to have the same people coming (to complain) in February 2011," he said. He said some people would latch onto certain details in the reassessment process or the company's credentials "like bulldogs" in grieving their assessments.
"And you can't change their minds," said town Councilwoman Kathleen Lefebvre.
The results of the last assessment were announced earlier this year, and a number of town residents objected that their properties were overvalued and that values attached to similar properties were not consistent. The town board voted in April to keep the new assessment figures, reduced by 30 percent across the board.
Lancour said the town would have to trust the assessor and KLW.
"They're the experts," he said. "Last assessment, it seemed like everyone walking the streets of Tupper Lake was an expert. That wasn't the case."
Lancour read from a list of recent property sales to demonstrate his belief that waterfront properties are not overassessed. For example, he said one waterfront property that was assessed at $427,000, then reduced to $390,000 by the town Board of Assessment Review, recently sold for $470,000.
After the reassessment earlier this year, a disproportionate number of owners of waterfront properties said their properties were valued too highly. Lancour disagreed and said that high-end and waterfront properties are still selling briskly and increasing in value.
"It was actually a pretty good assessment," he said.
Lefebvre agreed and said she thinks the results of the next assessment will be similar.
Lancour also blamed comments made at various town meetings and reported in the media for turning many townspeople against the assessment.
"It wasn't fact," he said. "It was a lot of hearsay."
Town Councilman John Button said he thought the assessment process wasn't very transparent last time and wasn't explained to the public well enough. He said the town would have to do a better job with that.
Contact Nathan Brown at 891-2600 ext. 26 or firstname.lastname@example.org.