Town passes assessment resolution

Town of Johnstown board member Tim Rizzo is shown at their regular meeting on Monday. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O’Hara)

JOHNSTOWN — The town passed the resolution to support a countywide assessment during their regular board meeting on Monday with two votes in favor and one opposed. Town board member Don Vandeusen was absent from the meeting.

“Now what that is as part of the shared services committee that we have at the county, one of the things that we’re looking at is countywide assessing,” said Supervisor Jack Wilson. “Jon [Stead] needs to have resolutions from towns. He needs them from five towns and then he can go forward officially and start looking at it. We are not approving countywide assessing, what we’re doing is approving the town of Johnstown’s in accordance with them looking into it.”

Some board members expressed their concerns and confusions on what the resolution meant.

Walter Lane brought up an issue that occurred about 12 years ago when the town did a 100 percent revaluation.

“This was like a bomb going off in our town,” Lane said. “The newspaper was just full of stuff, and the radio and people were talking about it on the street. Many of or senior citizens found their assessments had gone up considerably.

Wilson confirmed that the countywide assessment has nothing to do with a revaluation. He said it is a countywide consideration of assessment.

“We are a community and under the county, that is supporting the county going ahead with the effort to see where the countywide assessment would go,” Wilson said.

If there is a decision to go with the countywide assessing, every municipality would have to approve of it and then it would be put on a the ballot for residents to vote on it.

Board member Tim Rizzo also expressed he had confusion on the wording of the resolution, “Resolution to support County wide assessing” and referenced a email he sent against the resolution before the board meeting. His email states, “This appears to be the beginning of ‘Consolidation’ where the board never had a plan upon such an action or workshops involving professionals upon such a conversation. Town departments will be reduced one by one according to how this was raised. Next will be the Court System or the Town Highway Supervisor when he retires in nine months. It would fit the pattern. One of the main reasons the County wants the Town Court Systems is due to its ability to produce approximately $250,000 to $350,000 (estimating) in revenue from violations.”

At the meeting Rizzo suggested the resolution countywide assessing be called something different like “proposing investigation” or “report that theorizes joining of multiple communities.”

He also did not want to support the resolution until there was more information on what it entitles. Rizzo was the one opposed vote of the passed resolution.

“I think it should be postponed and should go back to the county and put something in writing first, so we all can evaluate it and table it and have every other community review something like that as well,” Rizzo said.

Town Attorney Leah Everhart said right now every other assessing unit in Fulton County has their own individual assessor. She said there is an option to have the county take over and do all of the assessing which would include participation in Article 7 tax assessment legal challenges.

“The only other community I’m aware that does this right now is Plattsburgh, so I’d have to look into the details of it, but my understanding is that the town would immediately be removed from the assessing component of all this,” Everhart said. “It wouldn’t be a town assessor coming up with assessments for the properties. It would be done at the county level instead. I don’t know how that would affect the mechanics of collection of taxes, but I don’t think it does. I’d have to look into it.”

By Josh Bovee

Leave a Reply