Evans defends city’s reassessment process

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Rochester Mayor Malik Evans believes delaying the city’s assessment process could create challenges. He expressed his opinion Monday in a detailed response to Councilmember Willie Lightfoot’s call to halt any new assessment for a period of two years.

“A delay would put me in a position of ignoring current market values, which would actually negatively impact homeowners who would otherwise receive a tax decrease and could shift the tax burden to homeowners,” Evans wrote.

The process, which began last June with direct mail and documents explaining property assessments, has met with some concerns–centering around a perceived lack of transparency and high property valuations. The new assessments are expected to be finalized in the spring. 

“We’ve promised our constituents that their reassessments would be fair, honest and correct,”  Lightfoot wrote. “But at this point, we feel it’s a promise we are unable to keep.”    

Lightfoot’s letter, dated Feb. 9, was signed by Councilmembers Mary Lupien, Stanley Martin and Kim Smith as well. 

He noted that several city residents most affected by the reassessment are seniors, many of whom live on fixed income. For this demographic, significant change in property assessments may directly affect quality of life and the ability to keep the heat on and food on the table, he added. 

“We are respectfully requesting that any new assessment be delayed for a period of two years so we can work together to find an amicable solution,” Lightfoot wrote. “This pause will also allow time for the turbulent real estate market, encumbered by high costs and soaring interest rates, to settle.”

The city has committed to New York State to conduct a quadrennial assessment, Evans responded. These assessments, done every four years, according to state guidelines, are weighted heavily by comparable sales across the city, and use complex regression analysis and appropriate property-by-property adjustments, the mayor notes.

He pointed out that an increase in property values doesn’t necessarily translate to higher property taxes. The tax levy formula takes the city’s overall property values into account.

“Ultimately, property values are increasing and are unlikely to revert back to pre-2020 values,” Evans wrote, calling attention to rising property values in Greater Rochester and across the nation. “I believe it is critical that we remain transparent and current as it relates to actual property valuations in the City of Rochester.”

Lightfoot contends the processes available to city residents to challenge assessments “are opaque, and have not effectively been communicated to Rochester’s most vulnerable populations.” 

As of last Wednesday, 5,418 city residents had signed up for informal review appointments with the city assessor’s office, which has added evening hours and Saturday time slots. In addition to mailings and information online, officials have met with neighborhood associations as part of the community outreach. Evans also shared a timeline of activities with City Council. 

“We look forward to working with you to support constituents who may find themselves in a difficult position; there are resources that we can provide,” Evans said in closing. “Every person’s property and personal situation is unique, and this is why we have encouraged people to reach out and make appointments with the City Assessor.”

Smriti Jacob is Rochester Beacon managing editor. The Beacon welcomes comments and letters from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name. Submissions to the Letters page should be sent to [email protected]

4 thoughts on “Evans defends city’s reassessment process

  1. I understand that many residents don’t understand how property taxes work, but city council members should.

    New assessments do NOT mean taxes will rise.

  2. Lol- we all know how this works. Population drain to the south (taking their tax dollars with them) less taxpayers = less property tax revenues. Instead of lowering taxes to combat taxpayer flight, the gap is closed by inflating property values. Reading this story, I knew it sounded familiar. Then it occurred to me the lovely AG (Ms Letitia James) is prosecuting a famous politician for inflating property values. Glad she is on the case. This must mean she is doing her research in anticipation of prosecuting the Tax Assessor fraternity for the same thing. I’ll be watching the Beacon for more reports.

    • Mars is right. That comment had to be coming from some planet other than Earth. There is no loss of property tax revenues when people move from New York because they don’t drag their houses and lots with them. The property gets sold and stays on the rolls, usually selling at a higher price which will result in HIGHER propery tax revenues when reassessed. As to Crook Donny, he’s been found guilty of lying about the value of his properties in order to defraud lenders and insurance companies by inflating his net worth in business transactions for personal gain. But feel free to provide to the authorities the evidence you have that tax assessors are inflating home values for their personal gain.

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