Port Henry Ten of Essex County’s 18 towns now have sole assessors. Should Moriah join them?
That’s the question being asked by Tim Garrison, a Moriah town board member. Moriah now has a board of three elected assessors.
“I was approached by several residents voicing concerns of why the town has not gone to a sole assessor,” Garrison said. “I informed them that was a good question and we (the town board) would look into — and if the pros out weighed the cons we would put it on the ballot and let the people of the town of Moriah decide by voting on it.
“I am suggesting that we look at going to a sole appointed assessor, not sole elected,” he said.
New York State allows for three types of assessment — by an elected board of assessors, by an elected sole assessor and by a sole assessor appointed by the town board.
Several Essex County town, most recently Crown Point, have switched to a sole appointed assessor.
Garrison pointed to a Department of State study that highlights the advantages of a sole assessor. The study claims many positive reasons for a sole assessor, including lower costs, more professionally-trained assessors, the elimination of conflicts of interest and consistency.
The Moriah trustee also believes towns will be forced by the state to have sole assessors in the near future.
“Eventually we may not have a choice,” Garrison said. “The state is working toward county-wide assessments. It’s going to happen.”
Paul Mazzotte, chairman of Moriah’s board of assessors, disagrees with the notion a sole assessor is an improvement.
“When you have a sole assessor you’re lucky to have that person in town one day a week,” Mazzotte said, pointing out sole assessors are often shared with neighboring communities. “We (current assessors) are available seven days a week, nights, weekends. With three assessors there is always someone available to help the public.”