SCHENECTADY Although Grievance Day in Schenectady didn't officially start until 9 a.m., City Hall was open and ready hours early.
Workers hung signs, unlocked doors and turned on lights at 7 a.m., expecting a flood of people.
But by 8 a.m., not a single person had showed up to challenge their tax assessment.
At 9 a.m., a handful of residents trickled, and unlike previous years, the staff was well prepared. They had analyzed sales of similar, nearby homes. They had professional appraisals.
Only a few simply asked for a reduction because they felt their taxes were too high.
One resident, Jeanne Ertel, said she was overassessed during the real estate bubble. She calmly listed the value of nearby homes assessed at $50,000 less than hers.
"I hope they are sensible and come down," she said, adding that the 4 percent across-the-board reduction given by the city wasn't enough. Her house, she believes, would sell for about $43,000 less than the city's new estimate.
"It's still too high," she said.
In years past, lines formed by 7 a.m. The process was once so disorganized and crowded that it propelled resident Roger Hull to create his own party and run for mayor. In last year's campaign, he repeatedly told the story of his wait in line after line to grieve his assessment.
Property values have fallen, and every property was reduced by 4 percent this year in the assessment roll that can be challenged today.