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Assessor award

Moreau Town Assessor Peggy Jenkins stands with her statewide award for distinguished service.

MOREAU — There are no plans for a reassessment, but the Town Board is considering hiring a firm to help keep the town’s assessments accurate.

GAR Associates, which did the town’s last reassessment in 2010, proposed a maintenance agreement in which it would help keep the assessment roll up to date. Officials presented the idea at Tuesday’s board meeting.

Board members liked the idea, but Supervisor Todd Kusnierz emphasized that the town is not interested in a reassessment.

“The last reassessment sucked a half million dollars out of our community,” he said, referring to the price. “For a community of our size, my position is, if you have a full-time assessor, we should be working to ensure our rolls are at 100 percent, and they are. We should be keeping up.”

However, town officials are trying to prepare for Assessor Peggy Jenkins’ retirement. A year ago, she said she would retire — but then changed her mind. They expect a retirement announcement at any time, possibly before her term expires in 13 months.

Jenkins, reached later, said she might retire in the next year — or she might not.

“I’ve had a change in my life, so I don’t know,” she said. “I decided not to (retire last year) because I was asked to reconsider. But now? I don’t know.”

If she retires, board members said they might hire a data maintenance company like GAR and a part-time assessor, rather than replacing her with a full-time assessor.

GAR Vice President David Barnett said that the company would be happy to help by beginning to update property values and do statistical analysis work now, before any retirement.

“It would allow us to prepare for that,” he said, adding that he doesn’t yet know whether the town would save money by hiring a company and a part-time assessor, versus solely hiring a full-time assessor.

“We try to make the assessor’s job easier,” he said.

But GAR can’t do everything an assessor can do, such as finalizing assessment rolls, taking cases to court and negotiating property values.

Kusnierz stressed that the town also doesn’t know when Jenkins will retire. She has been assessor for more than three decades, earning a statewide award for making “significant contributions to the improvement of assessment administration,” according to the state Assessors Association. She has mentored less experienced assessors, teaching them how to take their job to the next level by outreach such as drives to seniors’ houses to get them signed up for their annual exemptions. Whenever she retires, officials said it would be a big loss to the town.

“But she is eligible to retire,” Kusnierz said. “The town is doing its due diligence in ensuring the town’s needs are met if she retires before her terms ends.”

The town might also offer her a part-time position for partial retirement, he said.

But the board is just starting the process of considering all possibilities.

“We don’t have hard numbers on it,” he said of a part-time assessor with a data collection contract. “If the board wants to consider it, we’d have to get some other quotes, too. If the Town Board wants to go in that direction, we will budget for it and then get RFPs.”

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You can reach Kathleen Moore at 742-3247 or kmoore@poststar.com. Follow her on Twitter @ByKathleenMoore or at her blog on www.poststar.com.

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