The Right Side


By J Gary DiLaura



As you know, cities and towns in Niagara County, the highest taxed county in the ENTIRE United States, are reassessing the value of your properties. Why? To increase your taxes! Oh, they say the assessed value is below MARKET value but… MARKET value is an ESTIMATED value not a true “value”. When you sell your property to someone who wants it, THAT’S market value… oops, I forgot, there’s the NY State “definitions” of MARKET value that sort of interfere with the actual selling price. It must be a non-distressed sale and an “arms length transaction” for it to be MARKET value. Wait… there’s a definition of “arms length”… OMG is there an end to it… NO?!

It’s all opinion with very few exceptions. If you sell or give your property to a friend or relative, that’s NOT a legit MARKET value sale, okay I get it. According to NYS Tax Law, auction sales and bank sales are not, but I believe they should be! Here’s why… if an area gets so run down that the property loses value so that no one wants the property and the owner stops paying taxes and loans, the property goes into foreclosure or tax auction. Well, if no one wants it, what’s the value? If it goes to auction at a bank sale, I say THAT is market value. If it goes to auction, that’s market value. If it’s a HUD sale, that’s market value. But NYS Tax Law says, “NO”. Well if you don’t like the law, change it! Send emails and letters to your Tax AND Spend elected officials and get it changed! I’m sure Schumer, Gillibrand, Higgins and Slaughter will be very sympathetic to your cause, but they spend your federal tax dollars and don’t care about your NY State problems.

You’ll notice that I didn’t mention any “State,” Tax and Spend Party members because … well, it’s useless!!! Remember, NY is regularly rated as the worst financially-managed state in the country!

It gets worse! The towns and cities all have Tax Assessors but THEY are not doing the reassessments. They will tell you, “Yes. we are,” because the Assessors assign the assessments but they DON’T do the “APPRAISALS”!!! That is what turns into your assessment! Who’s doing your “APPRAISAL”… PROBABLY , YOU GUESSED IT… GAR ASSOCIATES.

Now if you ask GAR if the Assessors ever change GAR’s  “appraisal,” which will become your assessment, they’ll tell you “NO”, or hardly ever. Gar will sometimes change your appraisal if you are lucky enough to get an “informal” appointment with GAR, but not the Assessor. If you ask GAR if they were elected or appointed they will say, “NO.” They are a “contractor.”

That sounds like taxation without representation or am I wrong?! What do you think? Call your town officials and tell them you want the Assessor to do the reassessments!

If the Tax Assessor allows GAR’s appraisal to stand, unchallenged, as your Assessment, how is GAR not the Assessor? Better yet..why do we need an Assessor when we can pay GAR hundreds of thousands to do what our paid Tax Assessors can do for a fraction of the price? Wait, somehow that’s backwards!

So if you think you are getting screwed all the way around… you are!

You can go to the 2nd step, after the GAR “informal,” and that is the Board of Assessment Review (BAR). Now some BARs allow the taxpayer to make their argument and provide their evidence but sadly, some don’t. It’s actually in the Tax Law that the BAR must allow the taxpayer to make their argument, provide evidence and then give credence to their argument if it aligns with one of the 3 other methods to assess (Cost-Comp-Income), but… SOME cut the taxpayer off after 5 minutes and disregard all arguments.

The law requires that all Assessors take an oath to treat the taxpayers FAIR AND EQUITABLE, that’s the law! The oath, administered to the Assessor, by the Chairman of the BAR, states “fair and equitable” and says NOTHING about “market value or arms length transactions!” Further, if the Assessor believes that the Assessment is not correct, even after the BAR, they have the power to CHANGE the Assessment up to the end of the tax year, but seldom do!!

Look at the Starpoint School District. They spend money like a drunk sailor! Their teacher salaries are 50% of the school budget. Their capital expenditures could float an entire country, and this is not the fault of the new Superintendent, only those expenses he approved. But… their students MUST score extremely high on their SATS… they must be first in the nation if we spend the most to make them smart… but they’re NOT! How about 10th…50th…100t, NOT!

You folks who approve Starpoint’s annual budget better get more involved with their budget meetings… and start voting NO! I’m sure they’ll welcome you. I’ve been there and asked those questions and received blank stares! And, a few years later they spent $1.1 million to replace a perfectly wonderful football field. They’ll probably say, “Oh, that wasn’t your tax dollars, we had grant money!” No wonder their students aren’t geniuses… who do they think paid for the grant money?

The county and most towns promote business by welcoming new businesses with a TAX break. It’s called a 485b that allows businesses to generate cash flow before full assessment kicks in. NOT STARPOINT! Why not?! There’s also residential breaks for renovation, that I’m sure Starpoint ignores! Why?

Don’t like your taxes, make changes… VOTE OUT the TAX AND SPEND PARTY…it starts with a “D!”

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