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Property reassessments raising concerns among city residents

Mike Desmond/WBFO

There's increasing concern around Buffalo about the effects of reassessment on property tax bills. The issue drew a large crowd Monday night to First Presbyterian Church in Allentown, including homeowners who are facing retirement and who are on fixed incomes.

"It's going to cause a really big hardship," said Ed Jackson of West Side and Black Rock Riverside Neighborhood Housing Service regarding the reassessment process. 

"The per-capita income, the per-person income is around $21,000. And, for someone who is going to experience a tax increase or an increase in their value of 100 or 200%, you're going to see really big gains in the assessment but not so much a big gain in that income."

Many speakers at Monday's meeting echoed those sentiments. They fear their tax bills will go up so much they will have to sell out and move.

"I'm facing retirement. I'm a single homeowner and there is no one else to help me pay bills. Now, I'm facing maybe running out of money," Nadine Cook shared with the gathering.

"It's scary. I'm petrified. I'm really petrified."

City Hall has tried to ease concerns. Assessment and Taxation Commissioner Martin Kennedy doesn't expect major increases to impact one specific neighborhood.

"In the entire city, everywhere, no matter where you are, North Buffalo, South Buffalo, on the East Side, West Side, center Buffalo, everywhere, properties are increasing in value," Kennedy said. 

"It doesn't mean that taxes are going to go through the roof. It just does not mean that at all."

State Assemblyman Sean Ryan has legislation in Albany to allow the city to ease the increases and give breaks to low-income homeowners.


Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.