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April 22, 2020 - 5:31pm

Press release:

Due to COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Batavia will hold off on the 2020 reappraisal project that was set to change more than 2,000 assessed values.

To keep the City residents and employees safe, the City will not move forward with the project as the process to review and challenge an assessment requires considerable community interaction with the Assessment Office and city employees.  

“When properties are reassessed owners have the right to review the changes with the assessor, attend informal reviews, and ultimately attend Grievance Day with the Board of Assessment Review (BAR).  With the City’s offices closed, and our concern for citizen’s health and economic wellbeing at the forefront of our decision making, we will not change assessed values in 2020,” said Rachael Tabelski, Assistant City Manager. 

There are approximately 5,700 properties in the City of Batavia that support the City operations and make up one third of the City’s total budget. The only assessment changes that will move forward this year are 58 properties that had new construction or major physical changes. Of the 58 change notices approximately 20 of these owners are utility companies. 

The tentative roll will be posted on the City of Batavia website on May 1st for review.

The details of grievance and informal review will be posted on the City website. Per the New York State Executive Order 202.22, the City will hold Grievance Day via a web conference video/phone call, and the instructions will be provided on the website.

Please call or contact the City of Batavia Assessors Office with any questions. Call- 585-345-6301 or use the contact form located on our website.  

January 28, 2009 - 12:40pm

One of our readers recently pointed us to a study by the Tax Foundation that lists 1,817 counties across the U.S. according to the amount of property tax as a percentage of home value. Genesee County ranks 8th. In other words, 1,811 other counties in this nation pay less of a percentage of teir home value in property taxes.

Now, we've always known that we the people of western New York get shafted as far as taxes go. But it's another thing to see it quantified so starkly. Not only is Genesee County the eighth most taxed county in the country. Counties in New York make up 19 of the top 20 in the list!

Now, folks here may rank only 193rd on that list as far as amount of taxes paid (a median $2,565), but with a median home value of $95,500, that means the taxes paid total up about 2.7 percent of the home value. Wayne County is the same. Orleans County is first on the list with 3 percent. So on and so forth for our region. Just take a look.

We asked our state representatives, Assemblyman Steve Hawley, and newly-elected Senator Mike Ranzehofer, to weigh in on this. Hawley's office got back to us last week by issuing a press release on the topic. We'll include that release, entitled: "Hawley to Legislature: Stop Property Tax Rise Now," here in full.

First, however, let's here from Ranzenhofer, who spoke with us by phone today. Ranzenhofer agreed that the result of the study was not all that much of a surprise.

"Those of us who live here, work here, are well ware of the crushing taxes across the board," he said. "The only thing that's going to revitalize the area is not the suggestion of the governor to increase taxes on everything. We need to cut taxes and cut spending to encourage job growth."

We asked Ranzenhofer what he could do in the Senate to help relieve the tax burden here in Genesee County.

"One thing is my action on the state budget," he said. "It's a little disappointing that there hasn't been more done in Albany to deal with the budget and the budget deficit. We need to very strongly oppose increases in taxes, and even take it one step further and really need (to institute) across-the-board reduction in taxes. That doesn't mean shifting the burden to counties, families and business. It means streamlining every agency and department in state government."

Ranzenhofer spoke of instituting a tax cap and really following through on the threat of a hiring freeze at the state level. "We need to create a new tiered pension system," he added. "These are all things I've talked about. I hope to introduce legislation along those lines this year."

We'll keep an eye on you, Mike.

From the office of Steve Hawley:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R, I, C - Batavia) highlighted the recent Tax Foundation report, which announced that Orleans, Niagara, Monroe and Genesee counties all top the nation in highest property taxes as a percentage of median home value, when calling upon the State Legislature to immediately address property tax-saving measures.  The top measure hurting property taxpayers, according to Hawley, is the estimated $6 billion in unfunded mandates pushed onto local governments and, consequently, homeowners.

"Unfortunately, all we are seeing from our state's leaders right now is inaction when it comes to solving this crisis.  As always, Albany is continuing to shift the burden, and shift the blame, for property taxpayers' ever-rising tax burden.  In fact, this proposed state budget will shift nearly $4,000 per individual taxpayer.  For our state's economy to recover, Albany needs to begin taking responsibility for its spending.  We cannot afford this year's record-breaking budget proposal and we certainly cannot afford $4,000 in subsequent tax hikes," said Hawley.

According to the Assemblyman, the solution is multi-fold, which is why he has been a vocal advocate for increasing the economic viability of Western New York in order to help lower property tax costs.  The more businesses paying property taxes, the less these taxes will be burdening homeowners. However, Hawley states, "We must do more to attract business to coming to New York and we must strengthen our commitment to keeping businesses here. We cannot expect businesses to bear the brunt of the property tax burden and still offer quality jobs.  But it is vital to our long-term property tax-relieving solution that we address business growth."

Last year, as the nation was on the brink of an economic recession, Hawley was among tax reformers who asked, "Isn't it about time New York State make some tough budget choices as well?"  The federal government stepped in with their federal stimulus checks and buy-out capital for corporations, but it was still clear that states would need to rein in spending and consider stimulus plans of their own.  However, despite this, the New York State Legislature passed the most expensive budget in state history.

This year's Executive Budget proposal breaks the spending record again, paid for by 137 new and increased taxes.  His budget proposal also eliminates the property tax rebate check and decreases STAR exemptions across the board. At the same time, this budget does not address Medicaid fraud and, moreover, by cutting education aid, it will pass along an inevitable burden to local governments.  Not only will this plan cause local property taxes to rise, but it could also cost the state over half a million jobs.  According to former state chief economist Stephen Kagann, every $100 million in new taxes imposed during a recession leads to a loss of 11,400 private sector jobs. With these tax hikes totally $6 billion, this means the approximate loss of 600,000 jobs.

To balance the State Budget and reduce the state's debt, Hawley has long called for cost saving measures, such as agency and department consolidation, such as merging the Office of Real Property Services into the Department of Taxation and Finance, saving New York State taxpayers $18 million annually.  Another $37 million would be saved by merging the Office of Climate Change into the Office of Atmospheric Research at the State University of Albany.

Hawley also has been on the forefront of tackling government waste by calling for state operating cost cuts and continues to propose cost-saving measures such as limiting the amount of vehicles purchased on taxpayer dollars by 50 percent (not including public safety vehicles such as police, fire and emergency services vehicles) to save another estimated $4 million and $25 million, respectively.  Assemblyman Hawley stated, "The bulk of the cost savings would come from finally targeting Medicaid fraud, abuse and waste.  I have long supported a complete state take-over of Medicaid. Not only would this help ensure the program is run more efficiently, but it would eliminate a multi-billion unfunded mandate currently put on our local governments and taxpayers.  Perhaps, most importantly, by forcing the state to take responsibility for the Medicaid program, it will also help make Albany more accountable and cognizant for its spending overall."

The Tax Foundation used information compiled by the United States Census Bureau from 2005 to 2007 in their report which shows that out of all counties in the nation (with 20,000 or more residents) Orleans County residents pay the highest property taxes as a percentage of their home worth at 3.05 percent.  Niagara County came in second at 2.90 percent, followed by Monroe County ranking fifth and Genesee County ranking eighth at 2.84 and 2.69 percent, respectively.  Every county topping the nation's most highly taxed counties came from New York State (rankings 1-20), with the exception of Fort Bend County in Texas, ranking in eleventh place.  The majority of New York State counties on the list came from Western New York, strengthening Hawley's assertion that economic stimulus and a drastic reduction in spending are vital to lowering property taxes.

August 19, 2008 - 6:56am
posted by Howard B. Owens in governor Paterson, taxes, property tax, teachers union.

The Buffalo News this morning reports that New York teachers are increasing pressure on the state Legislature to oppose. Gov. Paterson's property tax cap.

The campaign to stop the cap is intense. NYSUT last week withheld endorsements from 38 state senators who voted for the Paterson tax cap. The Working Families Party mailed out 200,000 fliers in a bid to ensure the Democratic-run Assembly does not take up the cap this week. The party, along with the Alliance for Quality Education, has begun a one-week, $1.5 million TV ad campaign blasting the cap. It has also run radio ads.

High taxes -- and they are outrageously high in New York -- impede economic growth, cost people jobs, discourage businesses to relocate to New York, drive businesses out of New York, and ultimately decrease the amount of money local governments can generate in revenue.

Gov. Patterson's proposal is modest compared to the substantial cuts that should be made.

It's disappointing that the teachers union, at such a critical time, is putting self interest ahead of community interest.

June 14, 2008 - 7:52am
posted by Howard B. Owens in legislature, taxes, steve hawley, property tax.

Here's a gloomy story to start of your Saturday with: Don't expect property tax relief soon.

The impression left by the D&C story is that the state legislature is dissecting the issue into particle detail rather than just dealing with the basic issue: Property taxes are too high.

All sides have expressed a desire to do something about property taxes, but the way to get there, like the path to so many goals in Albany, is clouded.

A property tax cap, proposed by a state commission put together by former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, has won the support of Gov. David Paterson. But state lawmakers, including those who represent Monroe County, are not convinced Paterson's proposal is the answer.

Back in the 1970s, when Californians got fed up with the state Legislature's wishy-washy, spineless approach to property tax relief, they passed Jarvis-Gann, better known as Proposition 13. 

While the transition to new ways of funding and operating schools and government hasn't always been easy for California, property taxes are a lot lower and everything still operates just fine.  Maybe there needs to be a voter revolt in New York, cause it's sure sounding like the Legislature wants to sit on its hands.

Here's Steve Hawley's reply:

"I'm not sure we should be focusing exclusively on the school tax," said Assemblyman Stephen Hawley, R-Batavia, who was a member of the Genesee Valley Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) before he was elected to the Legislature.

Hawley suggested exploring different property tax rates based on income and family situation, not strictly home value, and noted that government spending is the root of the problem.

"A reasonable solution is to stop trying to be all things to all people," he said.

Certainly, reducing waste in government and the size of government is a good place to start, but the idea that the government would A) develop an even more complex tax scheme (different rates based on family size and income?); and, B) start meddling in the structure of New York families doesn't sound very Republican-like.

Maybe Hawley can contact us or leave a comment and try to explain better what he's talking about, because this sound bite sounds more scary than helpful.

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