City to assess firm for reval

JOHNSTOWN – City officials may appoint a private firm next week to do a property revaluation of all city properties.

The city has 3,663 parcels and the state equalization rate is currently at 70 percent. But officials feel the city can do better and desire a citywide revaluation to boost up that rate toward a truer market value of 100 percent. The city hasn’t had a revaluation since 1990.

Mayor Michael Julius said today the Common Council likely take action to hire a property revaluation firm at its business meeting at 7 p.m. Monday at City Hall. He said it isn’t on the agenda yet, but the city may hire GAR Associates of Amherst, Erie County.

“That’s what we’re leaning toward,” Julius said.

The city on March 21 fielded requests for proposals from three professional firms willing to conduct the revaluation.

The lowest proposal was $220,000 from GAR Associates. That firm spoke about its services to the Common Council in February. Other proposals opened were from: KLW Municipal Inc. of Buffalo – $227,900; and Emminger Newton Pigeon Magyar Inc. of Buffalo – $272,250. Under the law for such professional services, the city isn’t required to take the lowest cost for a proposal.

From the financial end, officials say the city has the funding to pay for the revaluation.

“It would be paid for out of the current [city] budget, and not necessarily over one budget,” city Treasurer Michael Gifford said Wednesday.

Gifford said the revaluation would be paid for partially this year, and partially next year.

The city budgeted $75,000 for revaluation purposes in 2014.

City Assessor Frank Parker said Wednesday he was unaware if the council will take action Monday on the revaluation firm. He also wouldn’t say whether he hopes the city selects GAR Associates – the firm he brought to speak to the council.

“All that information went to the council,” Parker said.

He has said there is a definite need for the city revaluation.

GAR Associates Vice President Cindy Baire told city officials in February that if the city signs a contract with her firm by May, the reassessment “certainly could be done” by spring 2015.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com