Schenectady County

Schenectady reval expected to come in under budget

The reassessment of every property in Schenectady has turned out to be much cheaper than expected, c

The reassessment of every property in the city has turned out to be much cheaper than expected, coming in on time and under budget.

Assessor Patrick Mastro expects to reduce his reval budget by $150,000 this year and $65,000 next year. The project will conclude with new assessments sent to every property owner in January.

The recent savings lowers the total reval cost to $470,000 — two-thirds of what was expected when the project was announced two years ago.

Mastro originally predicted the reval would cost $700,000. This week, he said he overbudgeted to make sure he’d have enough money for any eventuality.

“You just don’t want to start one of these processes and not have the money to do the job,” he said. “Murphy’s Law. I wasn’t going to get stuck with no funding and have somebody say, ‘Figure it out.’”

But his employees were able to do most of the work themselves. This year, they did all of the commercial property data collection, a complex job that Mastro didn’t want to farm out to lightly trained part-timers.

His employees also took on the tedious task of checking the history of every property to ensure that Mastro doesn’t base assessments on sales from before a house was substantially improved.

“We did more in-house than I anticipated. We saved a lot of money,” Mastro told the City Council this morning as members reviewed his 2009 budget proposal.

In 2007, the first year of the reval, the city spent $133,000, mainly for an army of part-timers who gathered data on every property in the city. In 2008, $350,000 was budgeted, for data collectors and a statistical analyst who is developing a formula for revaluing Schenectady’s residential and commercial buildings. But because the city did much of the data collection in-house, about $200,000 will be spent this year of the $350,000 budgeted.

For 2009, another $200,000 has been set aside, but Mastro said he will probably need less than $140,000.

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