Schenectady County

Grievance Day gets good reviews in Schenectady

So few people came out for Grievance Day in Schenectady this year that bystanders who hadn’t even in

So few people came out for Grievance Day in Schenectady this year that bystanders who hadn’t even intended to protest their tax assessment were able to fill out the paperwork, make their case and stroll out during their lunch hour.

City workers were posted on every floor of City Hall, ready to help hundreds of residents. The morning deluge: four people. The lunch rush: about six.

“It’s very quiet,” finance clerk Diane Marco said as she waited for residents who wanted to make their case directly to the Board of Assessment Review.

By midday, when one of the board’s two panels went on lunch, she had six residents waiting. The average wait time for them: 10 minutes.

Two years ago, residents waited for nine hours, mostly in the heat, without chairs, as they waited to pick up their paperwork.

This time, 26 chairs were lined up there. All were empty.

Director of Operations Sharon Jordan, who reorganized Grievance Day last year to better handle large crowds, said this year could have been busy — 360 people filed grievances ahead of time. But most chose not to make their case in person as well. Those who filed Tuesday morning were able to walk in and immediately speak to the board.

Residents said they had no complaints with this year’s process. It was so easy that some residents decided, on a whim, to try to get their assessment reduced.

“I didn’t come here to do that, but then I heard that today is the last day so I decided to try,” Deonarine Arjune said.

He completed the paperwork in less than an hour with the help of staffers who had literally no one else to attend to.

“They helped me to fill it out,” Arjune said. “It was a good experience.”

He waited for about 10 minutes to speak to the board. Afterward, he said he was impressed by how easily he could protest his assessment and be heard by a governing body.

“That was good,” he said. “They listened to me. I was happy with that.”

A downtown attorney also put together his paperwork Tuesday, arguing that his office at 28 Jay St. was assessed too highly.

He was impressed that staffers helped him organize his argument and explained the paperwork.

“The staff here’s been most accommodating,” Richard Wickerham said. “They explained everything clearly. That was very helpful.”

The entire process, from walking into City Hall to making his argument before the board, took less than an hour.

“They moved things along in a very efficient, businesslike manner. I thought it was very well done,” he said.

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