GLOVERSVILLE — The Gloversville Common Council will conduct a special meeting Tuesday night at 6 p.m. for the stated purpose of conducting a closed door executive session to interview a candidate for city assessor to fill the vacancy that will be created by Joni Dennie’s retirement.
Mayor Vince DeSantis said Dennie has announced she will be retiring by the end of the year, and he wants to hire a new assessor soon so there will be time for Dennie to help train and familiarize her successor with the job of assessing property in Gloversville.
The 2022 Gloversville city budget allocates $84,733 for the City Assessor’s department, which includes $2,400 available for temporary staff. The salary listed for the Gloversville City Assessor on www.seethroughny.net is $62,710 for 2022.
DeSantis said the city advertised the city assessor vacancy on www.indeed.com, as well as several other locations. He said the candidate the council will interview has experience working in the area of property assessment and currently lives in Little Falls, Herkimer County, but will soon move to Johnstown.
“We had several applicants, and one of them was very qualified and that’s the young man we have [set to be interviewed],” DeSantis said.
At its last meeting on Sept. 27, the Common Council voted 6-1 to change the city charter by local law to change the residency requirement for nine city officer jobs, including city assessor. Previously, Gloversville’s city assessors were required to live in Fulton County, but after the change residency in any county bordering Fulton County — Saratoga, Montgomery, Hamilton and Herkimer — is now also allowed.
DeSantis said the residency change was not done specifically for the city assessor position.
“We really want the best people for these jobs, so that’s why we expanded it to include neighboring counties,” he said. “This [city assessor applicant] has experience working in an assessor’s office, although he hasn’t been an assessor yet, but he has quite a bit of experience and knowledge about it.”
DeSantis said the city has forwarded the assessor candidate’s resume to the Fulton County Personnel Department and its Deputy Director Kari Town who will determine whether the candidate has all of the necessary qualifications to perform the duties of city assessor.
“We are pretty confident that he will qualify,” DeSantis said.
The New York state Office of Real Property Services defines city assessors as the government officials tasked with estimating the value of real property within a city, and maintaining assessments “at a uniform percentage of market value each year,” a task much easier said then done.
“In order to maintain a uniform roll, each year your assessor will need to analyze all of the properties in the municipality to determine which assessments need to be changed,” reads the description for the job at tax.ny.gov. “Where assessments need to be changed, in some cases, your assessor will be able to increase or decrease the assessments of a neighborhood or group of properties by applying real estate market trends to those properties.”
New York state’s equalization rate formula is the way the state attempts to measure the gap that can exist between the most recent property tax assessment of a parcel of land and the actual sales prices of comparable pieces of land in the same area. The equalization rate formula attempts to create a fair system for distributing the property tax levy burden equally across all of the properties in a given municipality.
Under most of Dennie’s tenure as city assessor, Gloversville has had a 100% equalization rate, thanks to an in-house, complete revaluation of the city’s properties completed by former City Assessor Dorothy Parker and Dennie in 2008. While that revaluation took several years to accomplish, it held up until 2021 when a red hot real estate market resulted in many residential real estate properties selling for prices far above their assessed value, resulting in the city’s equalization rate dropping to 89%.
Although Gloversville still has one of the higher equalization rates among municipalities in Fulton County, a falling equalization rate generally means property owners will take on a greater share of the county’s property tax levy.
In March, Dennie explained to the Common Council that the city’s falling equalization rate will also reduce the basic and enhanced STAR school tax exemptions.
“As equalization rate comes down, the cap on the STAR exemptions also comes down … but it can never come back up,” Dennie said, explaining that the STAR exemptions will not rise back up if the city’s equalization rate were to be raised back to 100% by a revaluation.
“That makes no sense at all, in my opinion,” Dennie said of the state’s STAR exemption rules. “You should start at square 1, if you do a revale. I just heard about that rule a year ago myself, from the Office of Real Property Tax Services in Albany. They’re the ones that make all of the rules.”
Dennie, however, has cautioned the council against the need to do a new complete citywide revaluation. She has advised the city to wait until the real estate market cools down before doing a revaluation. In July, her report to the council indicated there had been 23 property transfers that month with some indications new sale prices were cooling a bit.
“There was nothing way out of line — there were a lot of them higher than, of course, their assessments — but there were quite a few that were right along with their assessed values, so I think that’s good for the equalization rate,” she said.
DeSantis Sunday said the mission of the new city assessor will not include another in-house revaluation like Parker and Dennie did over a decade ago.
“The mission really stays the same, the mission is to make sure the assessments are all fair, and when they have to change someone’s assessment it’s based on real facts, the expansion of the square footage of something, new construction, that kind of thing,” DeSantis said.
However, DeSantis said the city will likely need to hire an outside company to do a complete revaluation of the city’s properties to get the equalization rate back to 100% before it falls any further.
“We have had a flurry the last year, year and a half, almost two years, of people moving into Gloversville from other cities, from outlying areas, even from out of state, buying houses and moving in,” he said. “So, we have kind of a population that is moving into Gloversville, and the sales prices are higher than what we’ve been historically used to in Gloversville.”
DeSantis said in order to ensure the city property tax levy is fair to both longtime and new property owners, he believes the city must conduct a complete revaluation within the remaining three years of his term as mayor.
“I’m sure that we’ll have to do it within that time, or else what will happen is our equalization rate won’t be back to 100%, and we want it to be,” he said.