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Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York

Potsdam gears up for assessment reevaluation

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POTSDAM - The town is in the midst of its first full property value reevaluation since 2008.

Town Assessor James P. Snyder has been visiting every property in town gathering information since August. There are about 5,500 properties total, and he will have visited all of them by the end of February.

“I’m on the road every day, it’s been pretty crazy,” he said.

The town data collector, Devan Korn, has also been visiting properties, taking photos and measuring square footage. He began entering the information into the town’s computer database to make sure all of the information is completely up-to-date for the upcoming reevaluation.

Modern technology is making the creation of a comprehensive property inventory easier than ever before. By using aerial photography databases and Bing Maps, Mr. Korn and Mr. Snyder were able to identify a few camps and other pieces of property that had never been listed in the town’s inventory before.

Once the field review is complete, town property owners will receive impact notices that explain any assessment changes and how it will likely impact tax rates.

A letter will accompany the notice, explaining that the estimated tax burden is subject to change if tax rates are altered or assessments successfully challenged. The impact reports sent during 2008’s reevaluation indicated a fairly small tax hike for most property owners, but rates changed, sending costs up much higher than initially estimated.

Those who feel their assessment is unfair will be able to schedule an informal hearing with Mr. Snyder, and given a 15-minute appointment to explain why their assessment should change.

Even if he will not lower the assessment, Mr. Snyder said he hopes he can explain to people what led to his decision.

“I think that’s half the battle, public relations,” he said.

If someone is still unhappy with the results of the informal hearing, they can bring their case before a five-member grievance board on May 28. The board has the final say, and the final assessment values will be finalized on July 1.

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