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Cicero, Salina take first steps to merge assessors

The towns of Cicero and Salina have made the first moves toward combining their assessor's offices under a Coordinated Assessment Program (CAP).

Cicero's town board voted 4-1 to approve a motion allowing Cicero Supervisor Chet Dudzinski to begin formal talks with Salina Supervisor Mark Nicotra about merging the offices. The vote took place at a special meeting Thursday morning at Cicero Town Hall, with Councilor Charlotte Tarwacki as the lone dissenting vote.

The towns have been considering the merger for the last few months, but Thursday's vote marks the first formal step in initiating the process.

"I need permission from the town board to move forward with any kind of formal talks," Dudzinski said. "Anything that's happened so far has been strictly informal."

Now, the attorneys for both towns will sit down and start to work out the logistics, including some rough numbers as to the cost and potential savings to both towns. It has already been decided that Salina assessor Brad Brennan will take on the duties of both offices, working part-time in Salina and part-time in Cicero.

Assessment committee's recommendations

In Cicero, Brennan will be tasked with heading up the town's reassessment. Cicero has not had a town-wide reassessment since the early 1990s, leading to inequities in the tax base. After former assessor Anita Barnello attempted to do a partial reassessment of 1,700 properties and was forced to scrap that work, the town formed an assessment committee to address the issue. The committee called for the town to switch from partial to full assessments, 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.

If the merger is approved, Brennan will work with an outside contractor to evaluate all of the town's properties and to rewrite the assessment rolls.

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