Residents want more information, town board agrees
Heated public comment led to a surprising turn of events at the Elbridge Town Board meeting Wednesday Sept. 16, when the board was expected to approve an agreement with the town of Camillus to create a Coordinated Assessment Program. The Camillus Town Board passed the resolution to enter into a CAP with Elbridge at its Sept. 8 meeting. The agreement, if passed by the Elbridge board, would have become effective Oct. 1 and allowed both towns to qualify for state incentive money.
But instead of voting, residents' dissatisfaction with the town's methods caused Supervisor Ken Bush to retract his motion and put the agreement temporarily on hold.
Taxpayers want more information
Residents Dan Conroy and Doug Blumer, who both regularly attend board meetings, agreed that they supported the idea of the CAP and annual revaluations in the town. But they did not approve of how the agreement was nearly a done deal, and there had been no public meetings or public information on the topic.
The board defended itself, stating there was no legal obligation on the town's part to hold a public hearing or discuss the move in public meetings.
The crux of that argument was that the CAP agreement would replace Elbridge town assessor Larry Fitts with Camillus' assessor, Celeste Karakas, who would work full-time for both towns under the contract. Because of the hiring-and-firing nature of the agreement, Bush and Councilor Rita Dygert both said the matter was a personnel issue and the town does not normally go to the public with such changes.
But Conroy and Blumer saw things differently.
"This is changing the way the town does business," Conroy said. That made it more than a management decision, in his view, and he questioned the board's intentions by keeping the agreement "secret."