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Warrensburg's new assessments endorsed by state court

WARRENSBURG The towns 2007 property revaluation effort that raised controversy, sparked anger and prompted legal action may have resulted in more accurate valuations than many citizens thought, according to several recent court rulings. Out of approximately 2,700 total parcels assessed by former Town Assessor Roger Langworthy, 12 complaints were heard before the New York State Small Claims Board of Real Property Services during the last several months, with the final case finding being issued last week. Dozens of angry citizens attended the June town board meeting, claiming that the town Langworthy had unfairly raised the assessed value of their property, and that assessments were arbitrary or not equal to other similar properties in town. Also, citizens claimed that Langworthy may have given a break to long-time residents. Langworthy resigned soon after the public outcry, citing health reasons for his retirement. Although plenty of anger and accusations occurred in early summer, the state board later weighed in primarily on behalf of Langworthys assessments. According to official documents, of the 12 complaints heard before the state board, two assessments were found to be incorrect and were changed by the hearing officer. Four of the property values were settled out of court, with minor changes in the assessed value, while six remained unchanged from Langworthys 2008 assessment. Langworthys successor, recently appointed Warrensburg Town Assessor Gregory Klingler, defended Langworthys assessments that had created such a furor. I think this shows that the assessments were relatively accurate, Klingler said. It seems there were only a few minor mistakes made during the revaluation process. The revaluation was undertaken by order of the town board and Supervisor Kevin Geraghty, beginning in the summer of 2007, prior to the mortgage crisis and market downturn. Some residents argued in May that their properties werent worth the assessed values, but county Real Property Services Director Michael Swan responded that assessments had to be based on the time they were made in 2007, and not the present market which had fallen considerably. The revaluation process was ordered by the town in an attempt to bring town valuation to 100 percent of market value, to adhere to state guidelines. Geraghty has said that the town was drastically under-valued and the town and school tax rates reflected this fact. We had to bring the town valuation up to 100 percent, Geraghty said. Accurate valuation is essential for the town so we dont miss out on county sales tax revenue as well as determining proper town and school district tax rates. Geraghty said that Warrensburg taxpayers were paying proportionately more per thousand in school taxes than their Thurman counterparts, who are part of the same district. According to Geraghty, about 30 percent of all properties in town were assessed at a higher value in the revaluation. One assessment challenge, that of Citizens Telecommunications of New York, is currently still active in the state courts. The state assessment board decided that it was accurate, but Citizens Telecom has filed a lawsuit against the town in the New York State Supreme Court.

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