Bethlehem residents fear re-assessments will significantly increase taxes

Posted at: 03/30/2014 2:41 PM
Updated at: 03/30/2014 2:42 PM
By: Dan Bazile

Bethlehem residents are fearing their property taxes will go up significantly after a town wide re-assessment. Property values went up, in some cases more than 500 percent.

Resident Linda Jasinksi said she was shocking to see her 2014 assessment notification in the mail from the Town of Bethlehem. She said everything she owns went up in value. The most significant change was a piece of land at the corner of Route 9 and Jericho Road. It's gone from $13,000 to about $83,000, a more than 500 percent increase.

"I don't think it's worth what they're saying. This piece of land has no gas or sewers," she says.

Jasinski says many of her friends are in the same boat. Dan Cunningham, a well-known activist in Delmar says he's getting hit too, although not as hard.

“It will cost me $800 more next year than it did this year. There's a lot of people. People next door. They moved here because of the quality of life. We don't want to have to move away," says Cunningham.

The higher the property value, the higher the taxes. In a phone conversation with WNYT, Town Councilman Bill Reinhardt said the purpose of the re-assessment was to make sure everyone pays their fair share. He says some large parcels of land have not been evaluated in the past, or were valued too low in the last assessment.

Reinhardt says the town hired a consultant for the job and changes are all over the board. Some properties went up, some stayed the same and some went down. He says in some cases, property owners may pay less in property taxes even though their value went up because businesses may pick up more of the burden.

But don't tell that to Jasinski, who says she's not sure how she's going to absorb thousands in tax increases.

"I myself retired recently and figured out all my expenses and some small increases. Nothing like this," she says.

Residents can appeal their assessment, but there's no guarantee that anything will change.