Andes tax official lauded for reassessment efforts


By Matthew J. Perry
Two members of the state’s office of real property services traveled to Andes Tuesday to present an award to Tina Moshier, the town’s tax assessor, at the town board’s monthly meeting.
Arnold Jones and Jim Laponte, managers in the state’s real property Newburgh office, praised Moshier and Andes in general for their 2008 effort to reassess local property values and update information on land parcels that previously had been spotty.
Jones described the importance of Andes’ effort with a harsh assessment of the real property taxation system in New York. “Not only is our performance poor, but we have the second highest real property tax in the country; only New Jersey’s is higher,” he said. “You folks in Andes realized this.”
Laponte praised the reassessment as a means to promote equity, or fairness, in the real tax base. It also promotes transparency by allowing taxpayers to review the information gathered on their property and understand the basis for tax assessments.
Mike Sabasky, director of the county’s real property services, was also on hand to congratulate Moshier. “She went into the reevaluation with perseverance,” he said. It’s not the easiest job when you’re at a low equalization rate. But she’s made sure that people now are paying their fair share.”
Moshier described the benefit of the reassessment as one that extends to both the town and the taxpayers. By utilizing extensive data collection and pictometry, the town was able to create a detailed picture of its real estate that considers not just the amount of acreage and number of buildings but the use of the land as well.
The Andes reassessment cost in excess of $100,000, most of which was paid for with town funds that were put aside in $30,000 amounts over several years, according to Moshier. The state will also compensate the town up to $5 for each of its roughly 2,400 land parcels.
The town board also passed a resolution that officially records its opposition to any restrictions on drilling for natural gas within the New York City watershed. Reacting to a proposal floated by DEP officials this summer, which suggested creating a one-mile, no-drilling border around all reservoirs and their stems, Supervisor Marty Donnelly was adamant that should such a ban be adopted, he would support compensation for affected landowners.
“If [the DEC] stops these people from making a living off their land, they should pay for it,” Donnelly stated, after proclaiming that there “is no scientific proof” that drilling regulations should be any different within the New York City watershed than elsewhere in the state.
The board also passed a resolution that defines one working day as six hours for all elected and appointed town officials. For highway department employees, transfer station attendants and the town clerk the workday was set at eight hours.
It was announced that the 2009 organization meeting and regular town meeting will be moved to the first Tuesday, Jan. 6. The meeting time remains at 12:30 p.m. At that time the board may decide to take part in a grass bio-energy project being run by the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Delaware County. The town may opt to install a grass pellet furnace or boiler in its highway garage—at no town cost—as part of a demonstration of technology that could benefit local agriculture. The goal of the project is to produce and use an alternative energy source—grass biomass pellets—at the local level.
“I think it’s a win-win for the town,” Donnelly stated. “We can save money on fuel and we have so many farmers who could use the help.”