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Shelter Island Assessor Al Hammond hangs up his hat

REPORTER FILE PHOTO Town Assessor Al Hammond
REPORTER FILE PHOTO |  Town Assessor Al Hammond

Al Hammond has preferred to fly under the radar during his 15 years as a town assessor. And, he says, he’d like to keep it that way as he prepares for retirement.

In an interview with the Reporter last week, Mr. Hammond praised his colleagues and let residents know the office will continue to be in secure hands after his departure.
“I think it’s time for personal enjoyment and it just feels right while my wife Katherine and I enjoy good health,” he said about his decision not to seek re-election this year.

He started his public career assisting the Town of Southampton with property reappraisals in 1990. His assessment skills working with bank officials and attorneys made him a natural fit for that job, he said.

Annual reappraisals have become routine for Mr. Hammond here and in his final days in office, he was assisting the staff working through that process.

“That is critical,” he said about maintaining the annual reappraisals that keep taxes fair.

In his years at the helm of the assessor’s office, Mr. Hammond observed that people buying property on the Island were always surprised to find their relationship with assessors wasn’t confrontational, he said, but conversational.

“Most people don’t really know what we do,” he said, explaining that assessors put a price on a property’s value. But they don’t raise and lower taxes. That’s a function of the Town Board.

Transparency is the most critical factor in an assessor’s approach to the job, Mr. Hammond said.

That attitude and his skills are what has gained the respect from Island real estate professionals, or anyone who has dealt with his office.

While in some municipalities, there’s a stress factor between assessors and real estate professionals, here, most will tell you that if you want to know the accurate value of a property, ask Al Hammond. Records of sales tend to hold up to his pricing skills.

“It’s a two-way street,” he said about his relationship with realtors, bank officials and lawyers. He admits he’ll miss those relationships almost as much as he’ll miss working with the staff in the assessor’s office.

The major spokesman for the assessors during his tenure, that role now will be shared among the staff, Mr. Hammond said, with Pat Castoldi as the appraisal expert. B.J. Ianfolla is very articulate and Quinn Karpeh, just elected to an assessor’s post, has already demonstrated that he’s a fast learner, Mr. Hammond said.

“Anyone walking in to the assessor’s office will feel right at home,” he said about the newly constituted team.

Looking ahead, he and wife plan to travel, including a trip next spring to Ireland for a birthday celebration for one of Ms. Hammond’s relatives.

Is his wife dreading having him underfoot in his retirement?

“My wife is my best friend,” Mr. Hammond said.