Bethlehem’s First Comprehensive Residential Data Improvement in Decades
In 2017, the Town began a comprehensive inventory to update and correct its database of residential properties in Town. This important effort has generated some confusion, as data improvement is different from a reassessment.
REASSESSMENT VERSUS DATA IMPROVEMENT
One of the big misunderstandings in Bethlehem right now is the difference between a reassessment and data improvement. Bethlehem completed a reassessment in 2014, but started data improvement for residential properties in late 2017.
A reassessment determines the value each property, while data improvement updates the list of information about the structures on each property.
Data improvement is important because real life is different from TV. When one watches a TV show, governments have perfect databases with all the information anyone could possibly want, instantly available and beautifully displayed. When one uses real government databases, we quickly find that they’re incomplete and sometimes inaccurate.
BETHLEHEM’S RESIDENTIAL DATA IMPROVEMENT PROJECT
Our town database of properties is being brought up to date with new technology, including new digital photos of the front of houses and digital sketches which include the dimensions of buildings and other structures on the property. Our property data cards have not been comprehensively reviewed and updated for many years. As a result, we are concerned that our list of what is on each property may be out of date or incomplete. Data improvement is the approach we’re using, just as every municipality uses, to make sure our information is correct.
Here’s how data improvement works. The Town of Bethlehem has contracted GAR Associates to conduct the data improvement project because the Town doesn’t have enough staff to do it. As our town is large, it has been broken into four sections to be done over four years. GAR has already sent letters to North Bethlehem and Delmar residents, the first parts of town to be inventoried, explaining the process they will follow to take exterior measurements of buildings and other structures like sheds and pools. GAR will NOT be doing interior inspections!