‘People in Penfield are out of their minds’: Homeowners vent frustrations with assessments

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PENFIELD, N.Y. (WHEC) — Penfield leaders are trying to reassure homeowners they won’t be slammed with crushing tax bills because of dramatically higher property assessments.

On Wednesday night, the town hosted a reassessment public information session to explain the assessment and tax situation and take questions.

"I’ve been a resident of Penfield for 30 years,” declared homeowner Mark Spade. “Owned three different homes and it’s just not going to fly. It’s not going to fly. You’re going to get an insurrection.”

"It’s rampant right now,” added homeowner Bill Viele. “People in Penfield are out of their minds."

Sure enough, some homeowners did come fired up as the Town of Penfield tried to ease concerns about what, for some of them are skyrocketing assessments for their homes.

"And I know some of you probably experienced sticker shock back in February,” said independent assessor Joe Emminger, who was not involved in the assessment process, brought in for the evening.

When the latest assessments came out, some homeowners saw their valuations increased 30%, 40%, and 50%. Viele’s went up 100%.

"I think they see us as a revenue stream," he exclaimed. "They don’t see us as citizens. We are a revenue stream that pays the bills here. ‘Let’s build another building. Let’s buy a park.’"

"Am I going to be able to afford to live here?" asked homeowner Carole Hoffman. "I don’t know. And I’m afraid that a lot of people, a significant amount, are not going to be able to afford to do that."

"This is a valuation project," Emminger told the crowd via video link. "You have to look at what you could sell your property for today."

He, and town officials, say sticker shock notwithstanding, town property tax rates will almost certainly come down, perhaps dramatically, so that two-thirds of homeowners will see the town taxes they actually pay stay the same or go down, while about a third see them go up.

Supervisor Marie Cinti says keep an eye on the town’s budget process, which she says will be restrained and thrifty, and can minimize the tax impact.

RELATED: Penfield supervisor threatened in midst of town reassessment

"Last year we didn’t have any increase," she said. "We kept the taxes flat."

But can that happen this year, with this assessment increase?

"I’d like to," she said. “But I haven’t started the budget process yet."

However they shake out, Cinti said the new budget and assessment, won’t affect Penfield tax bills until next year.

The assessments will also affect school taxes and she says keep an eye on them, and vote accordingly when school budgets come up in the next month or so.