B y Jaime Thomas
Nearly 50 people showed up to an informational meeting in Hebron last Wednesday about the possibility of a revaluation.
And while several residents expressed disapproval of undergoing another assessment after only five years, Vicki Hayner, the town’s new assessor, said the timing was appropriate. She said New York state generally recommends revaluation every five years; additionally, she feels Hebron’s rates are off.
“In looking over things, the biggest thing I feel is that land values in the town seem to be inflated,” Hayner said.
She also said Hebron has double the grievances of towns twice its size.
“For the size of your town, the number of grievances you have is high; there’s something going on here we need to address,” she said. She explained that her job is to make sure every property is at 100 percent of its value, because some people might be paying more in taxes than they should while others might be paying too little.
What several locals in attendance questioned Hayner about was the actual process of “drive by” assessing.
“I find it very interesting that you drive up and don’t go inside. I assume you use a formula. I could be cooking on a woodstove or in a $100,000 kitchen, and you wouldn’t know. When you place a value on property just by looking on the outside, how can that be accurate?” one woman asked, and others posed similar concerns.
Hayner told the group such instances won’t affect her numbers, because she goes by market value and recent area sales data. She also said while residents are welcome to request appointments for her to see the inside of their homes, it is not common practice.
“There are 1,600 parcels in town — I’m not going to come knocking on every door. Assessors just don’t do that these days,” she said. Additionally, she told the group she will not be walking their properties but will use Google Earth and a county geographic information system to assess land.
She also said property values have stayed even in Upstate New York, and prolific ‘for sale’ signs give a false impression.
“Lots of times people are getting offers for their properties, but they’re low and they don’t want to take a low offer,” she said. Hayner made it clear during the meeting that she has no influence on how much people pay in taxes; she simply assesses a property’s value and determines exemptions.
If the Hebron Town Board votes to have Hayner re-evaluate, her cost will be $31,000 over two years. The board will vote at a public meeting on May 13.