DELMAR Large landowners in the Town of Bethlehem who were unhappy with their preliminary assessment came out in force to speak out against the reassessment project last week.
Assessments were mailed out at the end of March. Some residents said they saw a jump in their assessment as high as 500 percent, and many said they did not know how they would come up with the money to pay next year’s tax bill. The town had a representative from GAR Associates, the firm handling the project, on hand to answer questions at the Wednesday, April 9, meeting.
“What’s going to happen to the value of my neighbors property ... when we cut down 30 acres of trees?” asked resident Keith Wiggand. “A lot of people here are angry about the amount of money it’s going to cost them, but a lot of people are angry because we have a beautiful town, and in one fell swoop, there are going to be trees cut down all over the place.”
A few other residents said they might also have to log their land, while others said they may opt to sell.
The Town Board decided to go forward with the reassessment project last spring. With the changing market and new development throughout the
town, the hope was the tax burden would shift from residents to commercial properties.
Nearly 56 percent of the town will see a decrease to no raise in taxes next year. Those seeing a large increase were mostly businesses and large landowners.
Many of the landowners said they did not feel their property was evaluated with land that was comparable, while others said some factors, such as soil grade and or utilities were overlooked.
Dave Barnett, from GAR Associates, said the company did not walk every property because there wasn’t enough time, but anyone with additional information that may help their assessment should schedule a preliminary hearing. He also said they did look at comparable properties outside of Albany County, but they tried to get rid of outliers and used an average of the properties.