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Portland keeping 57 percent equalization rate after scrutiny

February 25, 2016
By Ann Belcher ( , Westfield Republican

BROCTON - Staying ahead of the curve proved to be a win-win for taxpayers in the town of Portland who contribute to Brocton Central School, plus everyone who played a part in scrutinizing the town's equalization rate.

Town Supervisor Dan Schrantz reported at a recent town council meeting that Town Assessor Dea Anna Wheeler made use of a small window of time this year to challenge the state's recommended equalization rate for the town. Approximately three weeks ago, according to Schrantz, the town was notified that the state had set its equalization rate at 49.9, down from 57 percent at last estimate.

By challenging the rate, and making a rebuttal to the state Office of Real Property Tax, Wheeler was able to convince those setting the rate that unfair vacant land values were used in determining the 49.9 percent rate and the end result was to let the 57 percent equalization rate stand. The town supervisor's office expects to receive official word in March that the equalization rate remains on solid ground.

"I thank her for her efforts in that we were the only town within the school district's tax base to remain unchanged," Schrantz said.

He also thanked town residents Bill Ploetz, Mark Rand and the others who banded together to solve the mathematical maze of how the rate is determined.

"I think the state now realizes that we're keeping an eye on this. That's where I give a lot of credit to Bill and Mark, and others, for waking a lot of people up, including us on the council, to how important this is. This is really good news to hear that they agreed with Dea Anna's rebuttal. Had she not made use of that window, this would've dropped the equalization rate and would've caused another shift in school tax bills, and it would've resulted in another hard hit to our taxpayers," he added.

In other matters, the council held two public hearings and adopted their first two local laws of 2016. Local Law 1 and 2 of 2016 were adopted on the recommendation of Town Attorney Joel Seachrist bringing the town's building and zoning laws in line with changes that were carried through by New York State in previous years. The town supervisor also reported to the council that U.S. Census representatives will be traversing Portland neighborhoods later this year as an official Census gets underway.

Council members will meet again on March 9 beginning at 7 p.m.



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