The president of a local builders association has emerged as another critic of the Assessor’s Office in the Town of Evans.
Meanwhile, the Town of Cheektowaga is offering to share an assessor with Evans as a way for both communities to save money.
Those are the latest developments in a brewing controversy in Evans, where a taxpayers group is trying to block the reappointment of Jeanne C. Ebersole as town assessor.
The Town Board tabled her reappointment earlier this month after hearing an outcry from Evans Taxpayers United, which has been highly critical of Ebersole’s handling of property assessments and claims her appraisals favor political allies, friends and family.
Ebersole, a former real estate agent and Erie County legislator, has said the objections are coming from taxpayers who have a personal ax to grind with her.
But Christopher J. Tucker, a local builder and president of the Buffalo Niagara Builders Association, told the Evans Town Board during a work session last week that it should consider replacing Ebersole.
“In my due-diligence process of reviewing available parcels, a common theme seems to prevail and that is that property assessments often vary so substantially with no apparent path of predictable merit,” said Tucker, who is a managing partner with MJ Peterson/Tucker Homes. “One would presume that two very similar properties with comparable values would have similar assessments.”
Tucker – who is beginning his one-year term as president of the trade organization – did not provide specific examples, but said he has come across the inequities while investigating investment opportunities in Evans. Tucker said he wanted to share his own experiences with the Town Board, after members of the taxpayers group made him aware of efforts to reappoint Ebersole.
“Such inequities in the assessment process opens up not only the competence of those responsible, but raises questions of integrity, conflicts of interest, and exposes your community to challenges for such inequities,” Tucker told the board.
The resolution to reappoint Ebersole for another six years was submitted during the Jan. 2 meeting by Democratic Councilman Paul T. Cooper. Councilman Dennis M. Feldmann, also a Democrat, voted to hold off on the reappointment, as did Republican Supervisor Keith E. Dash.
The matter is still on the agenda for Wednesday’s Town Board meeting, but it’s unclear if it might come up for a vote. Ebersole’s contract runs through September.
Dash, meanwhile, has been considering consolidating the services of the Assessor’s Office with another municipality to save money. He has contacted Erie County about the possibilities.
Cheektowaga Supervisor Mary F. Holtz, in fact, sent Dash a letter last week offering to include Evans in a contract Cheektowaga has with the Town of Boston for the shared services of assessor Jeneen Lomando-McSkimming.
Holtz said the shared contract has worked out well for both towns.
“The Town of Cheektowaga is in the process of renewing Ms. McSkimming’s contract and would like to propose a similar arrangement for her services with your town,” Holtz wrote in her letter to Dash.