Town of Bethlehem residents now have assessment statistics at the tips of their fingers with the new Online Assessment Roll System, known as OARS.
The system will allow residents to directly access real property data, view sales and tax bill information, and perform comparable property and sales searches.
Bethlehem's new Online Assessment Roll System is a perfect example of local government using technology to improve service delivery, said Supervisor Jack Cunningham. "After last year's reassessment, residents said they wanted more assessment-related information online and OARS delivers that right to your home computer."
In November, the town received a $12,112 state grant to pay for the new system. The money came from the New York State Real Property Tax Administration Technology Improvement Grant program, created to help municipalities implement a comprehensive Web-based assessment lookup tool to enable taxpayers to gain access to assessment data with greater ease.
The town's Web-based system not only allows residents to view information but also allows users to gather, sort and compare data. Those tools include comparable property sales and assessment searches, residential property inventory characteristics for comparable searches, current tax rates and parcel level details and photos. M. David Leafer, the town's assessor, said this will be a useful tool for house hunters and sellers as well.
"Last year, for the very first time, we provided online access to assessment information including residential parcel and sales data information," said Leafer. "That information, however, was in a PDF form that was not interactive. OARS takes our previous capability to a whole new level by allowing residents " and town staff " to quickly sort through data, pull appropriate comparable information and do other research in a fraction of the time."
Leafer said before the PDF format, residents had to leaf through thick books of information kept in the assessor's office.