BETHLEHEM Town residents began receiving preliminary property reassessments at the end of March as part of the town’s reassessment project, which began last year.
Acting Town Assessor Laurie Lambertsen said letters began to be mailed out on March 26. A full assessment of town property has not been done since 2006, and officials opted to do a reassessment to make sure all sites were assessed at full market value.
“A lot has changed in the market since that time,” said Lambertsen. “It comes in cycles.”
The original plan called for the town assessor’s office to complete assessments for residential property, while GAR Associates was contracted to take care of the commercial and utility side. Eventually it was decided GAR Associates would handle the whole project because of staffing issues.
Former Town Assessor Patricia McVee said at the start of the project last year that some commercial property had been assessed far below market value. The only way for those assessments to be changed was for a townwide reassessment to take place because it is illegal to reassess individual properties.
The project won’t necessarily bring the town more revenue, but will likely shift some of what residents are paying onto commercial property owners.
According to GAR Associates, the total taxable value of town properties will go up an average of 10 percent. Commercial property will, on average, see an assessment increase of 18 percent, residential property will see an increase of about 6 percent.
In recent days, some residents have said the reassessment project is not being done fairly.
Bethlehem Republican Chairman Fred DiMaggio said he didn’t think the reassessment was needed because most property was already evaluated at 100 percent, and some areas of town may have been assessed differently.
“Not far behind will be tax increases,” he said. “The town board is tone deaf to what taxpayers are facing in Bethlehem. We are all willing to pay our fair share, but what is fair?”