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Supervisors question new assessment memorandum

The Essex County Board of Supervisors.

The Essex County Board of Supervisors. Photo by Keith Lobdell.

— Assessments were not just a hot topic at the many town Grievance Days this week.

They were also a debated topic during the May 21 Finance Committee meeting of the Essex County Board of Supervisors, where John Stack from the New York State Office of Real Property Tax Services talked about changes to the way in which assessments would be done throughout the state.

Stack talked about the memorandum of understanding that the state is seeking for the new assessment process, which is set to start in some towns for the 2013 rolls.

However, several supervisors said they were not pleased with the MOU, including Chairman Randy Douglas of Jay.

“Our real property office does not feel comfortable with us signing the MOU,” Douglas said. “Our assessors are worried, our town boards are worried, and our real property office is worried. I would recommend that no town here sign the MOU. You are asking us to sign an MOU and you do not know the answers to the questions that we are asking.”

Stack said that the MOU was needed in order to show a “commitment” to the program, and that he felt his office could help towns more effectively do assessments, explaining one area he felt needed to be addressed.

“A significant amount of the valuations in Essex County were done by trending,” Stack said. “That was something that was for a subdivision in Plattsburgh, and we had whole towns that were trending.”

Douglas said that Stack needed to meet with the assessors of the county together.

“We have met with them, but we still really do not know what their concerns are,” Stack said. “I have been here 12 years, and I have asked people if they needed help every year and we have not been taken up on any of them except two.”

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