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Town Board delays action on assessors

The Town Board won’t appoint an assessor to replace Craig Wood who resigned in December, and may opt to move from electing assessors to appointing them. But that decision remains on hold until sometime this spring.

In the meantime, political parties are being advised to select candidates to run for assessor in November so they’ll be poised to proceed if the decision is made to continue to use elected assessors.

The announcement came at Tuesday’s Town Board work session with Supervisor Gerry Siller and Councilwoman BJ Ianfolla explaining the reasoning not to appoint an assessor. With Mr. Wood bowing out, the two remaining assessors are extremely busy during the tax season, when typically all town property values are re-evaluated. Mr. Siller and Ms. Ianfolla advised not appointing someone because they don’t have time to train a new assessor.

Former assessor Al Hammond, who occupied that role for many years before his retirement, has agreed to work on a per diem basis if the two assessors need assistance. Salaries will also have to be adjusted for the two assessors whose hours have had to be expanded since Mr. Wood’s departure.

Mr. Siller noted that all but about 40 towns statewide use professional assessors instead of electing them.

Ethics Board

The Town has long maintained an Ethics Board, although its members have seldom been called on to investigate or advise what action the Town Board could take. There’s nothing pressing that requires immediate action, Mr. Siller said. But the Ethics Board should be reactivated. Members should be appointed without consideration of political affiliations, and should reflect gender diversity, Town Board members said.

There will also be a need to define what authority the Ethics Board would have or to adopt state standards, Town Attorney Bob DeStefano Jr. said.

In other actions, the Town Board:

• Heard from Marian Lindberg of The Nature Conservancy about an acre of land adjacent to Sachem’s Wood that the town could purchase for possible use as a site for affordable housing. Mr. Siller said the Town would like to purchase the property from The Nature Conservancy, with the price to be negotiated in an executive session.

• Heard from Councilwoman Meg Larsen that the Green Options Committee has determined the new roof at the Recycling Center could handle solar panels, and that possibility will be further explored.

• Deputy Supervisor Amber Brach-Williams reported on a trip to Southampton by some members of the Community Housing Board to meet with housing experts there and visit several sites of rental and sale affordable housing.

• The Fresh Pond Report should be made public soon, Town Engineer Joe Finora said. Members of the Fresh Pond Neighbors Association expect to weigh in on what solution they prefer before a decision is made about how to deal with pollutants at the site.