Monday, May 12, 2008

Assessor's Office... the fix is in

It looks like the fix is in for a new assessor. After not being able to hire their first choice first, it looks like they are going to have to hire her second. Here’s the background.

After having an assessor with unconvincing qualifications for 20 years, the old Town Board decided not to re-appoint Sharon Hornbeck last year, giving her plenty of free time to enjoy her full retirement.The old Town Board appointed a qualified person who had several years of experience as an assessor in Rosendale for the six year term in the fall of 2007.

After he took over the job in October and saw what a mess the office was, he took to the hills and found another job, but not after telling the Town Board and the town of all the shortcomings, including dozens of properties that weren’t on the tax roll, including $2.3 million of the Mohonk Mountain House!In January 2008, the newly elected Town Board appointed Michael Sommer as a full time acting assessor at the magnificent salary of $5,000 per month. Not a bad gig considering he also collects assessor paychecks from Ellenville, Wawarsing and Denning.

Now the first choice all along was Trish Kortright, who ran the successful campaign that swept the Republicans into office in November 2007. She's also a member of the family that owns the most land in town, including a lot of underassessed rock mines. The new Town Board had to give her some type of reward and the highest paying patronage job available was Town Assessor. As a member of the audience at a Town Board meeting said, “You owe her!”

Problem is, Trish didn’t have any qualifications. Solution? Hire her as a temporary “data collector” so she can get some “experience.” It was a job created especially for her and the Town Board ignored its own hiring rules and didn’t post the job or even think about looking at any other candidates. Not only that, the job wasn't in the budget so the Town Board is going to have to search through some cigar boxes or do some budget tricks to keep the budget balanced.

Then in May, the Town Board appointed Michael Sommer as the “permanent” assessor for the rest of the six year term. We'll get a quarter of the man's attention while paying the full salary despite the fact that there were other well qualified job candidates. Perfect solution. Trish gets her training working for Mike in the Assessor’s office, Mike gets a little extra money for less than a full time schedule. But how does Trish get the job they promised her?

No worries. We’re offering 100 to 1 odds that Mike will quit within a year and that Trish will be appointed to the job with her new found “experience.”

The Town Board's flim flam thank you ma'am charade deserves a medal for creativity. Question is, how much is the lack of a full-time qualified assessor really going to cost taxpayers in Rochester? Aside from the money, it's already costing the Town Board its credibility.


Anonymous said...

Those are some great to put your money where your mouth is?

Anonymous said...

Great blog! I look forward to future posts. Thanks for paying attention.

It's just a shame that everyone has to be anonymous, but with this group, if they figure out who you are you get nails in your driveway or they try to torch your house.

Anonymous said...

It's good that they got rid of the idiot who was assessor before.

Why are we paying a full salary when we only get 1/4th of his time? Or are they just trying to keep all the money "in the family" like they do in the highway department.

Imre Beke, Jr. said...

I wish you the best on your new blog. It's not easy studying up on the issues and forming a coherent viewpoint. Communicating it is even tougher.

A few points, though, if you don't mind.

First, it is all too easy for someone to come in, with or without experience, and cast stones at whoever was in the position before. That's what the Three Month Wonder installed by the Duke Administration did.

It's far more difficult to quietly fix the problem. That's what Mike Sommer did and is doing. Making all sorts of comments about the number of hours Mike is putting in and what time of day or night he is in the office is not productive. Supervisor Duke made a great deal of hay over how much time she had to put into the job but did little of any real benefit to the people of the Town. Supervisor Chipman is doing everything we need and more. Time is irrelevant. Results are all that matter.

That's why former Supervisor Duke's comments to the Bluestone make so little sense. She defined the job as full time then decided to go back on her evaluation and cut the salary of the incoming Supervisor. Anyone can check the tape of the Town Board meeting where she did so (I was there and heard it first hand). She stated that Mr. Chipman requested the pay cut. When faced with the truth, she denied making that statement.

Regardless, the question is are we paying for time or results? Whether for Supervisor or Assessor, we should be paying for results. In fact, someone who spends half the time in the office and gives us results which are as good or better than someone who is a full time employee is BETTER for us, not worse. Think about it. That is the true sign of talent.

That is why Mike Sommer is the perfect person for the job. He is second to none in Ulster County and even beyond in understanding, experience and skill when it comes to the task of assessing our properties for tax purposes. His personal knowledge of this Town makes his abilities all the more valuable. There is no one in this region who can even begin to approach Mike in doing this job.

It's a shame you don't feel you should attach your name to this blog. Yes, lots of people will be angry at you (I went through it myself), but lots more will respect your forthrightness, whether they agree or disagree with what you have to say.

I hope you and the other posters change your minds about anonymity. There is nothing positive in hiding your identity and quite a bit that is negative.

Anonymous said...

Looks like they will just appoint their lackey like they did when they gave Hornbeck the job 20 years ago. Its' just the same. Hornbeck needed a job, kortright needs a job. Hornbeck kept hers because her husband was chairman of the Conservative party and the Republicans needed his endorsement

Anonymous said...

Advise is good coming from Junior Beke. Just look at all the lies and hate that he posted using his own name.

Anonymous said...

They should give Kortright the job. She worked hard for it by getting them elected and they PROMISED it to her.

alysse said...

wow, a town blog. i just got the link and look forward to reading it. i just hope it's not going to be filled with people hiding behind 'anonymous' when they write their comments, because, well, how can you take anyone seriously if they aren't strong enough in their beliefs to sign their name?

i also hope that this blog isn't just a forum for negativity. but, time will tell.

have a great day & if you're free monday, come to the parade, the service after, and the community day that follows at the town park.

Anonymous said...

Dude, the saying is wham bam thank you ma'am, not flim flam.

Anonymous said...

Is this Blog hosted by United Rochester? I thought they were Republicans?