Assessments to be reviewed

Published 7:56 pm Monday, March 5, 2012

The city assessor will give her annual report to City Council during the Wednesday work session.

The work session begins at 5 p.m., with the regular meeting following at 7 p.m. The meetings are held in City Council chambers at 441 Market St.

If the assessments follow the trend of the last three years, they will fall. In 2011, residential assessment dropped an average of 3 percent. The year before that, they were down 4 percent, and in 2009 they fell 1 percent.

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The tax rate stayed the same throughout the freefall until last year, when City Council instituted a 6-cent hike to the rate to help make up a budget shortfall. The rate now is at 97 cents per $100 of value.

Property owners should have received assessments in the mail in recent weeks.

There are a number of ways for qualifying property owners to reduce their tax liability. Property owners who are disabled or at least 65 years of age can qualify for a reduction, as long as they meet certain income and net worth guidelines. In addition, owners who have rehabilitated structures that are at least 25 years in age can get a reduction in their tax liability.

In addition, the city’s agricultural program offers reduced assessments for land dedicated to forest or agricultural uses.

A property owner who does not agree with his reassessment has a grievance process. First, he should call 514-7475 to schedule an informal meeting with the assessor who dealt with the property. If the meeting does not resolve the owner’s concerns, the owner can file an application with the Board of Equalization, which is made up of property owners in Suffolk appointed by the Circuit Court. Those not satisfied with the board’s decision can appeal to the Circuit Court.

Other items on the agenda for Wednesday’s work session include updates on the City Hall replacement project and a utility main on Holland Road.

During the regular session, the City Council will vote on a resolution to appoint Helivi Holland as the city attorney. She would replace C. Edward Roettger Jr., who retired in December.

Holland previously worked as a deputy city attorney in Suffolk before serving as the director of the state Department of Juvenile Justice.

Other items on the regular session agenda include public hearings for a boundary line agreement related to the overhaul of the old Health Department site, a lease of farmland at Lone Star Lakes and acquisition of property for West Washington Street/Henley Place intersection improvements.