Much information was compiled by the Concerned Citizen Group for presentation and a public informational meeting that was held mid 2010 at the Crown Point Fire Department. Carl Ross, an elected assessor, Dave Galarneau, a sole appointed assessor, Robert Rowe who had worked at the County ORPS office and the County Tax office as well as having been an assessor himself, and David Blades, who is a supervisor and has worked with an appointed assessor, were all in attendance. Questions from the attendees were answered by the panel. Between the information from this pubic meeting and that given to us by the budget reduction committee, the town board members had much to study and discuss. After the meeting I made it a point to contact other towns that were outside Essex County that had changed to the sole assessor model. After spending more than four hours on the phone one afternoon I had not received even one negative report.
Presently the state is offering a one-time incentive of $7 per parcel for municipalities that move to the appointed assessor position. The present rate a sole appointed assessor receives is between $10 and $12 per parcel. For the first year only that rate would be reduced by the incentive rate. I was concerned that if we did not act quickly the state could actually move to mandate sole assessors. If that happened the incentive would disappear and we would have missed a window of opportunity. Another major factor which I considered very important was that by going to a sole appointed assessor the town could take advantage of shared services and form a CAP (Coordinated Assessing Program) with another town. Crown Point has a little more than 1,800 parcels of land. This means that we would have the option of hiring an assessor that already served other municipalities, and if we did, we would be able to share health care costs (if we want to go to health care down the road). Health care, as we all realize, is driving employer costs sky high and is going to have to be cost-shared with employees. These costs have to come from somewhere and, in our case now, it is only the taxpayers.
Robert Patnode Jr. is a Crown Point town board member.