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Assessment error could lead to higher taxes in Rotterdam

Tough economic times could be getting even tougher than expected for Rotterdam taxpayers. An assessment error made in 2007 will likely cause their taxes to go up next year to make up for an approximate $1.4 million deficit, according to town officials.

[Previous town assessor] John Macejka underestimated what it was that he gave to the county, and that work was dated November of 2007, said Town Assessor Craig Surprise.

George Davidson, Schenectady County commissioner of finance, said that the understatement of values was most likely due to the fact that the town was going through a full assessment that year as opposed to a partial assessment, making it possible for such an error to be overlooked.

"Each year in November, the county sends out a confirmation [letter] to the towns and to the city saying, 'Please provide the following information from your assessment roles,'" said Davidson.

They ask for the taxable assessed values and then adopt that value to apportion the tax levels among the municipalities.

"What happened when we sent out those values to Rotterdam and they were returned to us, they were under-assessed," said Davidson. "It's an assessment error in terms of the evaluations that were provided, and it ends up impacting on the [county] rates so what you would end up calling it is an error in the values that were apportioning the taxes."

To make up for the deficit, Rotterdam homeowners will have to pay more in their taxes this year, but it is a "one-time phenomenon," said Davidson. If a Rotterdam homeowner's property is assessed at $150,000, he or she will have to pay somewhere between $125 to $130 more in their taxes for 2009. In return, the other municipalities in Schenectady County, as well as the city of Schenectady, will be paying less in their taxes this year to make up for last year.

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