By Committee to Stop the Reassessments & Continuous Tax Increases
The “hidden tax increase” called “reassessment” is back on the table for the residents and business owners of the most highly taxed City in the nation. In addition, to add insult to injury, it was recently announced that a reassessment would increase property taxes by at least $9 million a year at the current tax rate.
So here we go again, fighting a fight that we thought was over. However, this time we will show our objection to a reassessment at the election booth this September and again in November. We will pay close attention to where our City Council candidates stand on this very important issue, as they should fight for US; we should not have to keep fighting them.
There are currently three open seats on the Niagara Falls City Council, and there are many new candidates from which to choose. This September, we will be voting for City Council candidates that will run in the general election in November. We know that we have the opportunity to stop any thought of a reassessment by electing candidates who do not support the huge tax increase called reassessments.
We are very happy that Robert Pascoal is a candidate for City Council as he was supportive of the residents’ and business owners’ efforts to stop the reassessments last summer. He also gave a very impressive speech regarding the taxpayers’ objections to a reassessment. We know where we stand with this candidate.
We also know that current City Council members Touma and Grandinetti, who are both running for re-election, led the charge to reassess us last summer. Touma, along with the support of Grandinetti, publicly stated that a citywide reassessment is a source of further revenue. He said the City’s residential parcels are currently assessed at 83 percent of their current value, while some commercial properties clock in at roughly 60 percent. He said he would like to see assessment values brought to 100 percent citywide, and to do so would raise property taxes in the City of Niagara Falls. According to his statement, this would raise our assessments on average from between 17 and 40 percent. Yes, that is right – 17 to 40 percent!
We have not forgotten how Touma and Grandinetti treated us when hundreds of taxpayers attended a City Council meeting last September to be heard on the issue of reassessments. We were greeted by Councilman Touma, who was caustic, defensive and downright rude to the residents of this City.
In addition, the attitude of timekeeper Councilwoman Grandinetti was just awful. It was blatantly apparent that her job was to silence every speaker as soon as their time was up even though they may have needed just another minute or two to finish their statement. We have been at several City Council meetings over the years and have never seen anything like this. Touma and Grandinetti showed total disrespect for the very people who put them into office. NOW THEY WANT OUR VOTE – WELL WE SAY NO!
We, the taxpayers, said it before and we will say it again. Our elected officials cannot have it both ways – 100 percent assessments and a combined tax rate of $45.90 per thousand for residential and $62.14 per thousand for commercial. A reassessment will not be tolerated until the tax rate is substantially reduced so that increased assessments do not translate into increased property taxes. We are already taxed well beyond what most of us can afford.
New York State does not mandate that properties be assessed at 100 percent of market value and there are many towns and cities assessed well below 100 percent. In fact, the Town of Niagara has not reassessed since 1991 and is currently assessed at 56 percent of market value, Wheatfield has not reassessed since 1994 and is currently assessed at 63 percent of market value, and Lewiston has not reassessed since 2005 and is currently assessed at 69 percent of market value. They are fortunate to have elected officials who do not use reassessments as an excuse for a huge tax increase. Even the former Town of Niagara Supervisor, Steve Richards, called reassessments what they are – he said he believes reassessments are “hidden tax increases”.
We know from experience that tax increases from reassessments are the highest tax increase that we will ever receive at one time. Tax increases from reassessments can be so severe that the State of California enacted Proposition 13 which limits the amount that property taxes can be increased to 2% per year regardless of what the reassessed value is. The State of Florida also has similar protections in place.
We will not vote for candidates who do not understand the detrimental effects that increased assessments would have on the already over-taxed residents and business owners of Niagara Falls. We will not vote for candidates who support raising our taxes through reassessments. The only thing that should be reassessed is the misuse of our money by our elected officials.