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Sticker shock with new Buffalo property assessments

All Buffalo neighborhoods have gone up in value - but will mean more taxes for some.
Posted: 7:20 PM, Sep 05, 2019
Updated: 2019-09-06 11:21:53-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — For the first time since 2001, the City of Buffalo has done a complete reassessment on 93,000 residential and commercial properties.

The good news; all 90+ neighborhoods in the city have increased in value - meaning property can be sold for more.

The bad news; about 30% of owners could see property tax increases - some of which are substantial.

Jason Shell, Buffalo Commissioner of Assessment & Taxation, said disclosure notices of the new assessments are in the mail now.

As to taxes, Shell said 1/3 of property owners will see a decrease, 1/3 will see no change, and 1/3 will see a property tax increase.

The city is encouraging all owners to review the reassessment notices for errors. It is important to make sure your are getting the proper exemptions (such as Star, senior, etc.)

If you think your new assessment is wrong, you should take part in several informal reviews being held across the city. Registration for those ends on October 15th and it is a first-come first-served basis.

Property owners can also file a formal assessment grievance during December 2019.

However, you need to prove your case if you think your property is worth less than the city estimated:

  • Review the sale prices on homes in your neighborhood.
  • Review the sale prices of comparable properties.
  • Take pictures showing the inside of your home does not have updated kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Make sure to include other documentation or photos showing why the property might be worth less.

You can find more information about property assessments and how to challenge them by clicking here.

Final tax bills will not be calculated until Buffalo adopts a new budget in the spring of 2020.

However, officials advise those planning to challenge their assessments to make sure they comply with deadlines, otherwise, their assessments will be fixed for 2020.

The new assessments are also raising concerns about property tax increases in low-income neighborhoods, such as the West Side, Hamlin Park and the Fruit Belt.

Cornell's Partnership for the Public Good is now lobbying the Buffalo Common Council and NYS lawmakers to create partial tax exemptions for those who could be at risk of having to leave their homes because of increased taxes.

The Partnership will be holding a town hall meeting in the Buffalo & Erie County Central Library on September 19th at 6 p.m. about the issue.