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Heated words exchanged during assessor meeting

After a pair of public hearings in the month of August on whether or not to propose a referendum in changing the way the assessors office is staffed in Essex, the matter will not be going to a public vote this year.

After a pair of public hearings in the month of August on whether or not to propose a referendum in changing the way the assessors office is staffed in Essex, the matter will not be going to a public vote this year. Photo by Keith Lobdell.

— A meeting on the future of how properties would be assessed in the town of Essex and by whom turned tense during discussion time.

The Aug. 8 meeting was one of two called by the Essex Town Council to decide if voters would be polled on whether to continue to have a board of three elected assessors or to go to a sole appointed assessor in the November general election.

During public comment, Salim “Sandy” Lewis, who recently received a favorable settlement in a suit filed against the town, spoke about having a “qualified” assessor when it came to placing value on farm land.

During his remarks, several members of the audience continued to voice frustration with Lewis, until it reached a boiling point as Lewis continued to direct remarks at the town board and town assessors who were in attendance.

“Mr. Lewis, go home, please,” Town Clerk Audrey Hoskins said.

“Shut up,” Rob Ivy said, standing to speak to Lewis and pointing. “Do you hear me? Shut up.”

“We have had an issue before...,” Lewis started to respond.

“Drop dead,” replied Ivy.

During the exchange, Supervisor Sharon Boisen tried to return calm by asking Lewis to stop.

“Sandy, that’s enough,” she said.

Ivy, a columnist for the Valley News, later apologized for his remarks.

“I would like to apologize for my outbursts toward Mr. Lewis,” Ivy said later in the meeting. “I find him a most vexing character.”

The meeting was called to gauge whether residents wanted to have the matter of an elected or appointed assessor on the November ballot.

“We do not want to make this decision on our own, and we want to know if people want this to be put on the ballot,” Boisen said. “We wanted to put this issue out to the public and see what they would want to do. The board agreed that no matter what their opinion was, they would go with what the majority of the town said.”

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