New construction and higher values on some residential and commercial properties increased the tax base in Erie County’s largest town by more than $202 million.
Amherst now estimates its taxable assessed value at more than $8.58 billion. That’s up 2.4 percent from the town’s taxable value of $8.38 billion in 2013, said Supervisor Barry A. Weinstein.
Weinstein estimates about 80 percent of the growth is because of new construction placed on the tax rolls – which closed July 1 – while the rest is due to higher assessments on some residential and commercial properties that the town felt were underassessed.
“We try to maintain 100 percent of value, so we review the whole town and determine what’s out of sync this year, because the market has been so great,” said Amherst Assessor Ann Terranova.
Terranova called this year’s rise in the tax base “a fair increase” and pointed out that the gains are better than what the town posted the previous year.
“Just go by UB, and there has been a ton of apartments being built,” Terranova said.
The supervisor has begun looking at the new tax rolls in preparation for figuring out next year’s budget and tax rate.
If there’s new growth – and the amount raised in taxes remains the same – taxes should go down, because there’s a larger tax rate to spread the bill.
Unless, of course, you are among the residents who received a higher assessment on your property.
Property owners legally have until the end of July to file a formal assessment appeal, Terranova said.
Only a handful of appeals have been filed so far, but Weinstein and Terranova anticipate more simply because there were about 130 appeals last year – mostly from commercial property owners – and the majority have not yet been settled.
However, the large amount of challenges last year prompted the Assessor’s Office to fine-tune the process a bit. Before formal notices were sent out this year, property owners seeing a change in their assessments were invited to have a more informal meeting with the Assessor’s Office to discuss the new figure and get a chance to explain why they think it is incorrect, Terranova said.
“We tried to make it more resident- and business-friendly. A lot of people took the opportunity,” Weinstein said. “I think it helped, but you never know until the appeals come in.”