North Elba may make assessor appointed, not elected

LAKE PLACID – North Elba town officials are considering switching their group of elected assessors to a single appointed one.

They said at their Tuesday night board meeting that they want feedback from residents about whether to do so.

Town Supervisor Roby Politi said the town has received six or seven requests for information or applications for a position that opened with the October death of longtime chief assessor Kimball Daby.

Daby was the full-time assessor for the town, but Jim Bishop and Art Jubin also fill part-time positions. All three are now elected.

If the town switches to an appointed assessor, there would only be one. If the town makes that switch, it can’t ever go back to an elected assessor, Politi said.

Of the people who have expressed interest in the position, several are town residents who would seek an appointment and then aim to be elected next year. A few, though, live outside the town and could only get the position if it is switched to an appointed one.

Politi said he can appreciate arguments on both sides.

“The assessor’s job is a pretty unique job that requires a very special – it’s special qualifications, especially in today’s market, and the types of real property that we have in this community,” Politi said. “It’s not like any other community in Essex County, given the number of hotels, restaurants, industrial and commercial types of property. It requires an extreme amount of knowledge and expertise.”

There are close to 8,500 parcels in the town, much more than anywhere else in the area, said Politi, who in his other job is a real estate broker.

Also, if an assessor is elected, trained and then defeated in the next election cycle, the town has to start all over again with training, Politi said.

Town residents do like to have a say in who is in the position, though, Politi said. They voted down a proposition five years ago to switch the highway superintendent position from elected to appointed.

“But I do think there’s a little difference here,” Politi said. “This is a little more difficult position in terms of trying to put values on things that requires an awful lot of education, a lot of time.”

Town Councilman Bob Miller said he would like to see the town hire a professional, if possible. He said he wants the position to be filled by someone who wouldn’t be able to be swayed by friends or looking to injure enemies.

“I would really like it to be an unbiased, professional position,” Miller said.

He added that if the town switches to an appointed sole assessor, the person needs certain certifications that elected assessors aren’t required to have.

Town Clerk Laurie Dudley said an appointed assessor wouldn’t have to answer to anyone but the five people on the town board, so the person could just make sure those five people are happy around appointment time and be back in the position for another six-year term. She said local residents who aren’t professionals also wouldn’t need to be paid as much, because they would be more interested in serving their town.

Councilman Derek Doty said board members haven’t made any decisions; they just wanted to explore options.

Politi said he’s willing to go either way as long as there are candidates for the position who are qualified. He said he’s curious to see how residents feel about it. He also wants to check with Jubin and Bishop for their thoughts on the topic. Neither is interested in the full-time position, he said.

Contact Jessica Collier at 891-2600 ext. 26 or