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Evans Town Board again opts to table the appointment of an assessor

EVANS — The Evans Town Board tabled the assessor’s appointment for a 13th consecutive time on Aug. 1, by a vote of 2 – 1. This latest time was different, as this was the first time that a resolution, a shared services agreement with the town of Cheektowaga, was on the table.

Said agreement would run from Oct. 1 of this year – Sept. 30, 2019, with an annual cost of $50,520 to Evans, paid to Cheektowaga in quarterly installments.

As Supervisor Keith Dash read the resolution aloud, during the board’s meeting, Councilman Dennis Feldmann interrupted with a motion to table, which was subsequently seconded by Councilman Paul Cooper.

“This thing has been carrying on for some time and, with this proposal from Cheektowaga, we haven’t had a chance to sit down and discuss this,” Cooper said. “Voting to table tonight wasn’t condemning it; it wasn’t approving it and the reason we voted to table this is because we’re talking about $50,000 a year for six years; $300,000 in taxpayer money. This isn’t done on a whim and I want to hear Keith’s and Dennis’ input.”

He said that he would prefer that Assessor Jeanie Ebersol speak about this matter, “because if her proposal could possibly save us more money. I want to hear it. We have to look at taxpayers’ savings. If we’re going to pull the trigger, let’s see what all of the options are, so that we can make an educated decision.”

The board member added that, when he first made this motion at the board’s organizational meeting, the assessor was put in a “very unenviable position, when [she] took on the role of assessor because, at that time, our assessments hadn’t been analyzed in at least 18 years, so they were going to be way out of whack. It really was a no-win situation and [she] tackled it head-on. She has handled things with great aplomb, for the past six years, in my opinion, by going above and beyond, to meet with people. I think she’s done a terrific job, especially when it comes to meeting the needs of our veterans.”

As to why he voted for the shared services agreement with Cheektowaga, Dash pointed to the savings this item would bring to the town.

“This agreement would save us approximately $37,000 annually, plus whatever we can get out of the Shared Municipal Service Grant from the governor,” he said. “I think that we’ve done our due diligence with this.”

Dash also provided background about how this agreement with Cheektowaga came about, which stems from a delay on Erie County’s part.

“What happened with Erie County is that they waited until the last minute,” he said. “When I went to meet with the county, to see if we could put something feasible together, town of Cheektowaga Supervisor Mary Holtz was there with a proposal for shared services. I subsequently met with Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz and then waited, waited and waited. And when the proposal finally came in, it wasn’t as much of a savings as I thought it would be. The county’s proposal was supposed to come in May, but we didn’t receive it until late June.”

Ebersol spoke, saying she was promised an opportunity to present her own proposal.

“I was assured that I would have the opportunity to present a proposal that was different than the current contract and I have not had that opportunity,” she said. “I have been patient and have waited until the other proposals have been presented, which is what I was told, as far as presenting my own proposal.”

Ebersol’s husband Rob also spoke in front of the board. “With Jeanie, you can’t ask for a better worker,” he said. “I’m not here to argue for or against her job, but she’s a tough girl, no matter what hardships she faces on the job.”

Dash said that the board’s decision is budget driven and has nothing to do with Ebersol or any politics.

“I think that Jeanie is a good assessor,” Dash said. “I think she is a good employee, as well. This is no vendetta on my part. I was investigating this simply as a cost-saving measure. This is not personal or political, but that this was driven by finances and the budget. This town board has made some very drastic cuts, already. We have two positions in the police department that have not been replaced. In the building office, we are down a full-time building inspector and an additional part-time position, which have not been replaced. We have a planning department run by one individual, a community development organization run by one individual and have taken a look at offering early retirement to those interested. It’s about saving money and cutting costs.”

The supervisor added, “We’re not done making cuts. This is a fire storm. To be honest, if the town board who appointed our assessor would have done their due diligence in terms of finances, we wouldn’t be looking at a proposal like this.”

In other matters:

– William Sills was appointed to the permanent position of police lieutenant. Sills had been serving in that role recently, on a provisional basis.

– Megan Scritchfield of Derby was appointed to the position of part-time clerk.

– A public hearing was scheduled for Sept. 4 at 7:10 p.m., regarding the renewal of a special use permit for M&D Auto Repair at 9579 Southwestern Blvd.

– The town is looking into the possibility of adding signage on routes 5 and 20, regarding former town resident Olympic gold medalist Christian Laettner.

A special meeting of the Evans Board will be held on Aug. 8.

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