Reassuring residents that tax rates won’t increase, the Cheektowaga Town Board approved a resolution Tuesday night to adopt full value for property tax assessments.
The vote was 5 to 2, with Council members Tim Meyers and Jim Rogowski opposed. Both expressed concerns about the potential impact on businesses.
“I think there’s been a lot of confusion surrounding this change,” said Council Member Angela Wozniak. “For individual residents of the town, you’re not going to see a change in your assessment.”
“We want it to be easier for residents to understand their (tax) bills,” Wozniak said.
While Cheektowaga has an equalization rate of 62 percent, property has been assessed at 100 percent for more than 20 years, residents were told during a series of public meetings held last September and October. A home now assessed at $62,000 has a full market value of $100,000.
The change would be reflected in school tax bills sent out this fall.
“We spent the time to go out to the community to try to explain this to people,” said Council Member Charlie Markel, noting that he pays about $5,000 a year in taxes.
“Other than a few vocal people that just hate government in general,” Markel said, residents understood.
“I never received one personal phone call on this issue,” Markel said.
In other business Tuesday night, the board voted to abolish an administrative assistant’s job in the Town Council Office held by Meyers’ wife, Valerie. Five members voted in favor; Meyers and Rogowski abstained from the vote.
Another resolution, reportedly to move her into another department, was withdrawn from the agenda earlier Tuesday.
Meyers will be compensated for accumulated vacation and personal leave time when the position is abolished Jan. 31. She has been paid more than $50,000 annually, according to public records.
Rogowski disputed the reason given in the resolution, among other things. The resolution states that because of technological advances, the need for the current level of support staff has declined; the position was created in 2002.
“I personally fear for the loss of public service,” he said. “Our first line to answer and address problems is legislative assistants.”
But Wozniak said that having Valerie Meyers working in a job that is directly supervised by members of the Town Board – of which her husband is a member – is a violation of Town Code. In 2011, the board adopted a policy relating to hiring/supervising relatives. It states, in part: “No town officer or employee may directly supervise a relative in the performance of the relative’s official power or duties.”
“She is our direct subordinate,” Wozniak said. “We decided we must take action.”
Discussions on that subject continued after the board concluded all of the other business on its agenda.
Meyers said that when the issue was discussed in work sessions, he brought up eight or nine cases of relatives’ supervising relatives in the town.