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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Ellery Sees Significant Assessment Changes

By PATRICK L. FANELLI

‘‘We’re at $4 million they’ve given away.’’— DeAnna Wheeler, Ellery assessor

6/18/2006 - BEMUS POINT — The assessment appeals process is over for Ellery, North Harmony and Gerry residents, and Grievance Board decisions are in the mail for the latter two.Ellery property owners will have to wait a few more days since there are some details to wrap up, but there have been ‘‘significant’’ changes made to the town’s assessment roll, according to DeaAnna Wheeler, assessor.‘‘It’s not what the board typically does,’’ she said.According to Ms. Wheeler, members of the Ellery Board of Assessment Review made a great deal of changes to property assessments appealed by owners at Grievance Day last month. She said the changes they made in most cases were ‘‘significant.’’‘‘We’re at $4 million they’ve given away,’’ she said, displaying some disappointment with the decisions.That’s $4 million off a townwide assessment increase of nearly $50 million — but considering there were only 80 appointments, that drop would likely have been substantially higher if all property owners who experienced a large increase decided to appeal.She said the 80 appointments represent roughly 2 percent of the town. The numbers were similar elsewhere — 62 appointments for North Harmony and 26 for Gerry. There were a handful of mail-ins, and many of the property owners owned two or more parcels — but far fewer property owners appeared their assessments than might have been guessed.Some residents believe this was because many property owners were frustrated with Ms. Wheeler and the process and didn’t believe it would do any good.Ms. Wheeler believes it was because the situation in her three towns was exaggerated, and that other towns fared worse.‘‘Compared to other towns, it was majorly played up in the media,’’ she said. ‘‘It was highly advertised. There was a lot of unjust throwing out there. My numbers speak for themselves.’’Shortly before she learned of the changes the Ellery Grievance Board made to the assessment roll, she told The Post-Journal that she expected only one-third of the property owners to see their assessments changed. For Ellery, the changes far much more substantial, and for North Harmony, too — where approximately half of the assessments were changed, but to a lesser degree.The Ellery Town Board’s request that the state Legislature roll back the assessments is still pending, but there is little hope it will be granted. For the property owners who went to Grievance Day, though, a deus ex machina might not be needed — and there’s still the Small Claims of Assessment Review court in Mayville to appeal to.

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