Evans taxpayers – miffed about the rise in their property assessments – are trying to block the reappointment of the person who raised the assessments – the town assessor.
A proposal to reappoint Jeanne C. Ebersole as Evans assessor was tabled by a vote of 2 to 1 last week after the Town Board heard an outcry from Evans Taxpayers United.
The taxpayers group – which formed in 2008 in the wake of the townwide reassessment – has been highly critical of Ebersole’s handling of property assessments and claims her appraisals favor political allies, friends and family.
“Well over 100 people got really great reductions,” said Ernie Waddell, co-chairman of Evans Taxpayers United. “Then, other people had them doubled – some had them tripled.
“There are so many people who have gotten reductions at the expense of everybody else,” Waddell said. “It’s just not right.”
Some taxpayers with an ax to grind have been trying to discredit her since she became town assessor in 2005, said Ebersole, a former realtor and Erie County legislator.
“I understand no one likes their tax bill,” Ebersole said, “but the job of the assessor is to make sure the real-property tax burden is spread out fairly among property owners.
“By nature, the job is not a popularity contest,” Ebersole said.
Democrat Councilman Paul T. Cooper submitted the proposal to reappoint Ebersole for another six years at the Town Board meeting Wednesday.
Ebersole – who earns a salary of $57,140 – is under contract until the end of September. Assessors are usually appointed for six-year terms at that time, but Evans historically has approved the contract during reorganizational meetings in January, Ebersole said.
The move, however, prompted the taxpayer group to call town officials and voice its opposition.
While successful property-assessment challenges have helped quiet the uproar since the townwide revaluation, the proposal to reappoint Ebersole came as a surprise, said Ed Conboy Jr., the former co-chairman of Evans Taxpayers United.
The taxpayers group assumed Ebersole would be replaced by the town’s new administration, he said.
“We really thought they were going to get a new assessor,” Conboy said. “That was the word.”
In fact, Democrat Councilman Dennis M. Feldmann did vote Wednesday to put the brakes on Ebersole’s reappointment, which was supported by Republican Supervisor Keith E. Dash.
Dash – who is trying to dig the town out of a financial hole – said he has been entertaining cost-saving ideas for the assessor’s office, which has a budget of nearly $144,000.
“We’re still up against the wall, as far as finances, and we’re looking at every possible way of saving money,” Dash said.
One idea, he said, might be to consolidate the services of the assessor with another municipality.
“Until I get those figures, I couldn’t make an intelligent or financially prudent decision to extend the six-year contract,” Dash said.