FULTON – During public comment at the Common Council meeting Tuesday, July 9, two Fulton residents spoke to the councilors about their concerns regarding property reassessments throughout the city.
“The higher your city’s worth or your village is worth, the less your tax pay is going to be, but what happens is, if you raise your assessed value by more than what the equalization rate is, then you’re going to wind up paying more in taxes,” said resident and Oswego County legislator Frank Castiglia.
Castiglia said Fulton’s equalization rate is currently 97% and it is supposed to be at 100%.
Ten years ago, Castiglia said the city did a total reevaluation and his own house was assessed incorrectly, giving the house an extra room and changing its building date by 100 years.
“Most of these people, I’ve been told, they sit and just go right through the computers. Very rarely do they come up to the houses,” Castiglia said. “We have to start forcing the issue on these things. It’s up to you guys. It’s not easy, but it has to happen.”
Castiglia gave examples of houses and buildings not being taken care of that affect the total evaluation of the city.
“Frank, I’m with you,” said First Ward Councilor Tom Kenyon. “The people that take care of their houses and their lawns and everything, let’s leave them alone and go after the people that [don’t]. Make them bring their assessment up.”
The second person to speak about the assessments was Andrew Hart, a Fulton resident and landlord who owns properties in five out of the six wards. Hart said his assessment went up 76% within two years on his personal property where he lives.
He said he received a letter saying his property assessment went up because he put in an above ground pool and solar panels to his four bedroom and two and a half bathroom home. Really, his home has three bedrooms and two bathrooms.
“I have the smallest lot on S. 1st Street, in the fourth ward and I am now the highest assessed home on that block. Last time my street was paved – 1994,” Hart said. “Solar panels depreciate every year; they are removable; they are not taxable. An above ground pool can be removed.”
He said with every property he owns that the assessment was raised, his taxes were raised as well, but did not have a problem with it because he could raise the rent. His concern reached a high when it was his personal home that was raised.
Hart also expressed his concern with where his taxes are going. He said he is upset that the pools were closed, Sharp’s Pond is going to be deconstructed and a tree was taken out to build the new splash park in Hulett Park rather than somewhere else like Sharp’s Pond.
“Problem is, everyone wants to live in the past; nobody wants to look to the future,” said Third Ward Councilor Donald Patrick Jr.
“Memories are great, we all have memories… but for us, for the youth, we have to look to the future also, and that’s what we’re trying to do here.”
Patrick said the cost of the splash park is much less than that of maintaining a public pool with lifeguards.
The Common Council president also said he understood Hart’s frustration with the property reassessment.
“Sometimes we get penalized for keeping our homes up and I don’t disagree with you on that it seems … backwards,” Patrick said.
Following public comment, the council voted on five resolutions. They voted to approve the purchase of road salt, the rehabilitation of four primary clarifiers at the city’s wastewater and pollution control facility, allow certain city employees to use a credit card for the city and to make a year long contract with Constellation Energy for electricity.
The council also voted to approve a contract through 2019 for Fulton recreation supervisor, clerk chamberlain, DPW commissioner and police chief.
The only councilors to vote yes for the assessor’s contract was Patrick for the third ward and Sixth Ward Councilor Lawrence Macner, so that motion failed.
The next regularly scheduled Common Council meeting will be Tuesday, August 6.