One position that’s been hard to hire for several years is an assessor for the Town of New Paltz. There’s currently no town employee certified to do that work, but Supervisor Neil Bettez has worked out a solution that involves the assessor in Esopus, Shannon Harris. Harris and another Esopus staffer, Patty Smith, will be paid hourly in the short term to ensure that all necessary work gets done, while longtime New Paltz employee Diane Lee will become the public face of the office. In between answering questions and otherwise helping anyone in need, Lee will take courses in assessment administration and receive hands-on training from Harris and Smith.
Looking ahead to the next year’s budget, the idea is to work out a more formal shared-assessor agreement between New Paltz and Esopus council members. That’s not an uncommon model in this county, having a single assessor work in two or even three towns. Presumably, Lee would continue to be the first point of contact for any town resident, as Smith is for those in Esopus with questions.
After a shared-services agreement is worked out, Harris would begin preparations for a revaluation of all the properties in both towns, which would occur in two or three years. Revaluations can be complicated and politically fraught, but the more years that pass since the last one the more distorted the tax burden among property owners becomes. Revaluation makes it more likely that every property taxpayer pays a share that is fair.
The “intensive training” of Diane Lee is set to begin August 1.