We got the letters in the mail several weeks ago announcing a reassessment of all residential and commercial property in the city of Rochester during the next four months. There was a neighborhood meeting last night with good information about the assessment process.
The city announced that on average, property assessments will go up 10 percent in order to have assessed values closer to market value. Of course, that fact caused many groans as most citizens thought that meant property taxes will go up 10 percent. The representative of the city assessor's office did a good job explaining that an increase in assessment doesn't automatically mean an increase in taxes. Tax rates are based on budgets and if the budget stays the same and all assessments increase the same amount, that taxes stay the same.
Of course, not all assessments will change the same amount. If that was the case, there would be no need to do the assessment. In some neighborhoods, properties are selling for less than what they were in years past and so those assessments will go down. The staff appraisers are in the process of studying recent sales in an effort to assign a fair market value and letters will be mailed in December to inform property owners of their new assessed value.
Property owners that disagree with their new assessments can request an informal hearing, which will be held December through February. If the issue is not resolved, the owner can apply for a formal hearing. THE DEADLINE TO APPLY FOR A FORMAL HEARING IS MARCH, 18, 2008 --NO EXCEPTIONS! Final assessments will be announced May 1, 2008.
What can you be doing about this? First and foremost, you need to make sure the city tax records are accurate. The letters mailed to us gave basic information such as lot size, sq footage, number of bathrooms. If you'd don't still have that letter, you can find your tax information on the city web site: http://www.cityofrochester.gov/. . You don't want to pay taxes for an 1800 sq foot house if your house is actually 1675 sq feet! I will include some information at a later date about property values and how to determine if your property is fairly assessed.