ELIZABETHTOWN — With almost no comment before the vote, Essex County lawmakers approved the county taking over property assessing for two towns.
The one-year pilot project starts this month and will see a county assessor in Westport and Elizabethtown two days a week.
The Consolidated Assessing Program test project passed the County Board of Supervisors 17 to 1.
Supervisor Edward Hatch (D-Willsboro) voted against it, saying Willsboro had once been part of the project, and now the state was asking the town to pay back the assessment aid it had received so far for participation.
Hatch said the state billed Willsboro $5,900 for withdrawing from the Consolidated Assessing Program (CAP). He said his town wanted to stay in the CAP but had reappointed its sole assessor, David Galarneau, instead of using the county.
The other two towns did not want to use Galarneau and had agreed on the use of a county assessor, so Willsboro’s action was considered a de facto withdrawal.
Westport and Elizabethtown will pay the county $14 a parcel for assessing services from the County Office of Real Property Tax Services, about $41,000 a year.
The county is hiring a part-timer for $18,250 to do tax mapping and paying about $6,200 more in salary to promote a tax map technician in the County Real Property Tax Office to assessor status.
The part-time tax mapper is needed so the state-certified assessor employed by the county can spend a day in each town weekly instead of on tax map duties.
The Board of Supervisors reclassified the tax map technician up in grade, from $18.30 an hour to 19.09 an hour, to do assessing.
The pilot program will be evaluated at the end of the first year, and they’ll decide whether they’d like it to continue, Connell said outside the meeting.
“We’re proposing a year because we thought that would be a good trial period, and we thought everyone has concerns about this.”
Elizabethtown and Westport are now the first towns in Essex County to have the county do their property assessing.
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