Consumer Alert: Group of homeowners calls for recall of local officials due to reassessments

Consumer Alert: City of Rochester reassessment

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — For months News10NBC has brought you stories about angry homeowners who are facing reassessments of sometimes double the original value.

Now, a group of homeowners is calling for a recall of local officials.

Take a drive down any Rochester street, and it’s not hard to find an angry homeowner. Some say their assessments have more than doubled and that has led to the formation of a group that calls themselves “Rochester United for Fair Reassessments.”

Dwight Robinson is one of the leaders of the group.  

He takes issue with the city’s argument that while your reassessment may have gone up, your taxes may not go up.

“The taxes may not have gone up but when the insurance company sees that your house is now worth $150,000 and to rebuild the house now goes up to $300,000, your insurance is going to go up and that is going to make your mortgage go up,” says Robinson/

He owns three houses including one on Avendale Park. He says he bought this home for 124,000 in 2006. It was assessed at $188,000, but his recent assessed value increased by 70% to $320,000.

“I think the city didn’t think when they rolled it out. I think they need to pause their assessments, do it right, and if they don’t pause it we’re gonna push for a recall of all the officials that are not fighting for a pause,” says Robinson.

But according to Comptroller Thomas Dinapoli, a city may not provide for recall elections of elected officials in the absence of express statutory or constitutional authority. And citizens do not have that constitutional authority in New York.

But this group believes the city’s assessor Michael Zazzara had neither the tools nor time to perform the reassessments properly and can present little evidence to support the reassessed amounts.

Alexander Phoenix said, “I saw Mr. Zizarra smoking a cigarette when we were at City Hall the other day, and I said, ‘Sir, where are the appraisals?’ And he told me that I can FOIL it” — meaning to file a request for information under the Freedom of Information Law.

City leaders adamantly dispute that, saying the information is readily accessible online for every city resident. A spokesman wrote:

“The city employs seven experienced appraisers. There is one assessor and one deputy assessor. In fact, the newest/youngest appraiser on the team has more than eight years of experience in appraisals, and several have at least two decades worth of experience.”

Still, this group insists the city needs to put a pause in place to reassess their own reassessments.

“Now the question is, will our elected officials finally listen? And if they don’t, they will be recalled and I’m telling you this as a fact,” said Clay Harris.

City leaders believe this group’s claims are baseless — insisting the reassessments were accurate. They say they’ve held a number of “Get the Facts” sessions, giving homeowners months to understand and dispute their reassessments.

Of course, News10NBC continues to follow this ongoing dispute.