It’s official: Cicero and Salina now share an assessor.
The Cicero Town Board voted 4 to 1 at their meeting Monday to approve a shared services agreement with Salina for assessor Brad Brennan’s time. Salina’s town board approved the measure at their March 9 meeting.
Both towns will save with the measure, Supervisor Chet Dudzinski said.
“One of the significant things with sharing an assessor is that we’ll be able to save $20,000 to $25,000 immediately,” Dudzinski said.
Brennan, who has been Salina’s assessor for 22 years, will split his time between the two towns, being in Salina two and a half days a week and Cicero two and a half days a week. Otherwise, each office would be staffed with clerks, data collectors and other employees.
Cicero and Salina both have approximately 13,500 parcels, most of which are residential. Salina has assessed at full value for about the last nine years; Brennan was assessor when the town made the switch.
“He’s probably one of the most capable individuals for the position in the state,” Dudzinski said of Brennan. “You’re able to talk to him. If there’s an issue, he’s more than willing to sit down with you.”
Brennan will work for both towns at a salary of $91,000 to be paid by both Cicero and Salina.
Coming up to speed
The state of assessments in Cicero is poor; the town tried to reevaluate about a third of its properties last spring and faced extreme opposition from residents. As a result, the town rolled back those re-assessments to their 2007 levels.
In order to address the issue, the town formed a committee made up of citizens, professionals and town board member Charlotte Tarwacki. The committee called for the town to switch from partial to full assessments (as about 65 percent of towns in the state use), to add staff at the assessor’s office, to improve the grievance process and to conduct a town-wide reassessment over the next two years.
Tarwacki cast the lone dissenting vote. She has vocally opposed the agreement since it was suggested, expressing the opinion that Cicero’s assessment rolls are in too poor a state to combine assessor’s offices with another town. She has also said that Assessment Committee Chairman John Winters opposed the move.
The full Coordinated Assessment Program cannot go through until Cicero’s assessment rolls are brought up to date and the town is operating on a full-value assessment basis, which is expected to happen by 2011. Therefore, the towns will be involved in an informal partnership until that time.
During this trial run, Cicero’s acting assessor, Linda Yancey, will stay on to help Brennan get familiar with the town and to complete the revaluation.
Brennan will start in the position Wednesday March 25.
Support from the outside
After the vote, Dudzinski read a letter into the record that board members received from the Greater Syracuse Chamber of Commerce.
“Government modernization can exist in many different forms,” Dudzinski read. “It’s a high-priority initiative Shared services that reduce cost and/or increase efficiency mitigate our high tax burden. We commend your leadership for considering this shared services [agreement] Actions such as this help distinguish Central New York as a great place to live and work.”
The move also has the support of the county and the state’s Office of Real Property Services.
“We’re all trying to do more with less,” said Teresa Frank, regional director of ORPS’ Syracuse office. “It certainly can be done if there’s good support staff I think this is a step in the right direction. There’s nothing locking you in at this point. It can’t hurt to try this.”
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.