City reviews revaluation options

JOHNSTOWN – A real estate appraisal firm interested in doing a full revaluation of the city’s more than 3,000 parcels told city officials Tuesday its work could be completed by spring 2015, in time for the 2015 and 2016 tax rolls.

The city is considering contracting with GAR Associates of Amherst, Erie County, which has an Albany office, to do a revaluation of all city properties. The current state equalization rate in the city – the rate properties are assessed at for true value – is 73 percent. The city hasn’t had a revaluation since 1990.

GAR Associates Vice President Cindy Baire made a presentation to the Common Council Tuesday night at City Hall.

“It’s [revaluation] usually an anxious time for a lot of property owners,” she said. “You want to make sure all that inventory is adequate and accurate.”

Baire said her company uses aerial photos and it’s not necessary to go into people’s houses, but sometimes the GAR appraisers are invited.

“We do spend a lot of time with the seniors,” she said. “We like to get together with them.”

She said that if the city signs a contract with her firm by May, the company “certainly could be done by” spring 2015. She said new proposed assessments could be mailed to property owners by March 2015, with final assessments by July of that year. She said the new assessments would initially involve the September 2015 Greater Johnstown School District tax rolls, and Fulton County and city tax rolls by January 2016.

The council took no action on the firm’s proposal, although the city has budgeted $75,000 for a revaluation.

“There’s a definite need to do this,” city Assessor Frank Parker told the council. “We have assessments all over the place.”

Baire said her company has six full-time staff members in Albany. She said her firm stresses public information, conducting workshops and working closely with property owners.

“Not everyone’s going to be happy, but at the end of the day, they’re going to be able to review the information,” Baire said.

She said her firm last year did a revaluation for the city of Troy, which hadn’t had one done since the 1970s and had a 13 percent equalization rate.

“Currently, we’re doing the town of Bethlehem [Albany County] and the city of Corning [Steuben County] reassessment projects,” Baire said.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at