Homeowners enlighten Cheektowaga City Council on property assessments
CHEEKTOWAGA, NY (WIVB) – Owners of Cheektowaga are concerned about soaring tax assessments they just received this week.
Dozens of Cheektowaga homeowners gave the city council a Tuesday night.
Just a year after their homes were reassessed, which resulted in increased property taxes for many of them, they were shocked to learn that their home was being assessed again.
Increasing property values can be a double-edged sword for homeowners. Your house may be worth more, but it can also lead to higher property taxes. The owners of Cheektowaga just had their property reassessed less than a year ago, but this week the assessment notices are coming out again.
Attorney Gary Borek told us last year’s assessment was a correction for past practices.
“Some people were overpriced compared to others, paying more than they should have, others were paying less than they should have,” said Gary Borek, owner of Cheektowaga.
Borek said residential property taxes depend on a number of factors, and the assessed value set by a private company is just one of them.
Borek, who just received his own assessment notice this week, told us that once the city sets its overall tax levy, each property owner must pay a share, and if the assessment increase is greater at the average for your neighborhood your tax bill could go up, if it’s below the average your bill might actually go down.
“So statistically, they calculate how much the average increase in value of homes was in a particular neighborhood, and then they apply that percentage to all the homes in that neighborhood, and that’s what’s on the draft bill,” Borek said.
City officials said they were also surprised by the new assessments and, due to backlash from owners, plan to hold a special session on Thursday.
Borek said they should encourage owners to file disputes.
“You could go to a real estate agent and some will charge you, and some will do it for free, to get what’s called a ‘market analysis.’ In other words, what price would you sell your property for, and you could use that market analysis,” Borek added.
Borek, who sued Cheektowaga himself for his appraisal practices, says a homeowner can try a full appraisal, but it can get expensive. To challenge your rating, click here.
Al Vaughters is an award-winning investigative journalist who has been on the News 4 team since 1994. See more of his work here. To submit a Call 4 action, click here.