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Cheektowaga homeowners demand reassessment answers

Cheektowaga Town Board to hold a special session
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Posted at 6:33 PM, May 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-11 18:33:27-04

CHEEKTOWAGA, NY (WKBW) — Cheektowaga homeowners continue voicing outrage over a new round of property tax reassessments.

I went directly to the office of Cheektowaga Town Assessor Jill Murphy. I was told she was in the office Wednesday but was not available because she was working on the assessments and trying to gather information.

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Town of Cheektowaga Assessor's office.

This is after Tuesday night's town board meeting where residents spoke out against assessments that are boosting their property values by thousands of dollars.

However, I did find someone who spoke directly with Murphy.

Scott Bylewski is the director of Erie County Real Property Tax Services.

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Scott Bylewski is the director of Erie County Real Property Tax Services.

“You said you talked to the Cheektowaga Town Assessor Jill Murphy. What has she told you about this situation?” Buckley questioned.

“Basically that the Town of Cheektowaga has a resolution on file that they will maintain assessments at 100% and so she went out and did — in accordance with her and state law — the job that she was supposed to do,” replied Bylewski.

Maintaining assessments at 100% means the values for all real estate property in the town would be kept at 100% of fair or full market value.

“Is this legal that they are doing this for a second year in a row?” Buckley questioned.

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Cheektowaga Town Assessor's office.

“What the town is saying it's going to be at 100% that's what they needed to do to maintain 100-percent,” responded Bylewski.

The town tried to do these assessments in 2020, but it was put on hold due to covid. then last year properties were reassessed and raised to 100%.

Cheektowaga/Sloan homeowner Judy Lehsten was working on filing her grievance at the assessor's office when I spoke with her Wednesday morning.

“I was totally thrown off because last year mine went up so much I didn't fight it,” Lehsten explained.

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Cheektowaga/Sloan homeowner Judy Lehsten.

Lehnten says she received her reassessment this week and put it in a draw, but then heard about all the homeowners outraged and decided she needs to fight it.

“And then I saw your news story, I had to come in and file a grievance,” remarked Lehsten.

Lehsten tells me that last year her home was reassessed from $71,000 to $119,000 and her property and school taxes increased by $600 and now she's worried about another tax increase.

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Cheektowaga/Sloan homeowner Judy Lehsten.

“I’m a single parent and trying to do this on my own. It's hard and I’m scared. I don't know if I will be able to pay my taxes,” noted Lehsten.

But it's important to note, that town assessor letters state an assessment increase does not automatically mean your taxes will go up.

“Assessments do not equate necessarily with an increase in taxes. The assessed value is a function is how much the property is worth and in this case, the town has stated the assessment should be at 100% a full market,” explained Bylewski.

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Cheektowaga Town Hall.

Homeowners have until May 25 to file a grievance with the town.

At Tuesday night's meeting, some town board members attempted to stop the assessments, but that was halted by others saying they were worried about legalities.

The board will hold a special session Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Cheektowaga Town Hall to discuss the 2022 reassessments.