Council seeks firm for revaluation

JOHNSTOWN – Even though a western New York firm last month proposed the city hire it to do a citywide revaluation of properties, the Common Council is opening up the hiring process.

The council voted Monday at City Hall to advertise for sealed, written proposals from consultants to conduct a revaluation of all city properties. Proposals will be publicly opened by city Clerk Cathy VanAlstyne and city Treasurer Michael Gifford at 10 a.m. March 21 at City Hall.

The city wants to do a full revaluation of Johnstown’s more than 3,000 parcels. The city has budgeted $75,000 for 2014 for a revaluation.

A representative of GAR Associates of Amherst, Erie County, spoke to the council in February, offering to do the city’s revaluation. The company said if the city signed a contract with it by May, the revaluation could be done by spring 2015, with new proposed assessments mailed to property owners by March of that year.

But the council noted despite that presentation, the city must publicly open up the search for a firm to conduct the revaluation.

“We had not even advertised” by the presentation, said 3rd Ward Councilwoman Helen Martin.

City Attorney Brett Preston said the presentation Feb. 18 by GAR Associates Vice President Cindy Baire was at the invitation of city Assessor Frank Parker.

Second Ward Councilwoman Kathi Iannotti said Parker sent letters to five companies and GAR Associates was the only one to respond with a proposal.

Nevertheless, Martin and 1st Ward Councilwoman Cindy Lakata said that if GAR Associates is still interested in doing Johnstown’s revaluation, it will submit a public, written proposal by March 21.

In other business:

The council approved a contract not to exceed $18,000 with Orion Management Co. of Amsterdam to provide administrative consulting services for administration of a city grant. The firm will work at a rate of $96 per hour. The city received word in 2009 that it was awarded a $750,000 Community Development Block Grant from the state Housing Trust Fund Corp. to assist with upgrades at the Gloversville-Johnstown Wastewater Treatment Facility.

The sewer plant is involved in a $7 million upgrade project for the sewer plant’s treatment process to deal with more waste products from the local dairy industries. Those industries include the Fage USA yogurt plant and the Euphrates cheese factory.

The council approved a three-year deal between the city and the Fulton County Planning Department to authorize use of the county’s Pictometry program. The agreement will run through Dec. 31, 2016.

“We use this a lot in our planning for [computer-aided design],” said city Engineer Chandra Cotter.