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Oswego neighbors speak out after sweeping property reassessment

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media File Photo

There’s sticker shock in Oswego in the wake of the first city-wide property reassessment since 1997. Some neighbors are seeing their property values more than double.

For more than three hours Wednesday night, people who live in Oswego expressed their concerns about their latest assessments.

City Assessor Kevin Hill said the sweeping reassessment was a matter of righting wrongs because about 25% of property owners had been paying a disproportionately high amount.

“To put it plainly, those who saw a projected reduction in their property tax on their disclosure notice as a result of the reassessment were paying too much and were actually subsidizing the property taxes of approximately 50 percent of the parcels in the city,” said Hill.

An assessment letter residents of the city of Oswego received in March 2024
Jason Smith
An assessment letter residents of the city of Oswego received in March 2024

But people who live in the city are raising questions about how the reassessment was done by Buffalo-area firm GAR Associates.

Former city councilor Connie Cosemento said her assessment more than doubled, and she doesn’t think the reassessment took into account neighborhood decline.

“Parking, noise, especially on weekends, and more commonly now on weeknights, the rundown appearance of properties continues,” she said. “When the elderly move into assistance living or pass their properties, they are often sold quickly and for less than market value, and we end up with more rentals.”

George Valentine said his assessment went from $61,000 to $142,000, but he’s worried about more than his own situation.

“We’re Oswegonians,” Valentine said. “We care about the community, and a lot of issues have been raised that will affect the long-term of our community.”

At multiple times during the public hearing, speakers accused the city of using the new assessments to get more tax money.

Oswego County Director of Real Property Tax Services Corey Metz said that’s not how it works.

“For every dollar that somebody increased, somebody decreased that dollar,” Metz said. “It’s not increasing taxes. It may increase taxes for you. It may increase taxes for specific people that were under-assessed that were not paying their fair share of taxes before, but it is not creating new tax revenue.”

Hill is urging neighbors who think their assessment is not accurate to reach out to him.

“If people would stop with the distractions and focus on the actual notice and all of the remedies available to them, I will sit down with every single person, look at the numbers, and make sure they’re accurate,” Hill said.

Applications for an informal review process are due by March 31. Neighbors can also take part in Grievance Day May 28. The new values will be final July 1.

Jessica Cain is a freelance reporter for WRVO, covering issues around central New York. Most recently, Jessica was a package producer at Fox News in New York City, where she worked on major news events, including the 2016 presidential conventions and election. Prior to that, she worked as a reporter and anchor for multiple media outlets in central and northern New York. A Camillus native, Jessica enjoys exploring the outdoors with her daughters, going to the theater, playing the piano, and reading.