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.