CONSTABLE –– No comments were made at a public hearing regarding a law change that will reduce the number of town assessors to one, and turn town assessor into an appointed position.

The Town Board will not vote on the law until September, 60 days before it will appear on the November general election ballot. The hearing had to be conducted Thursday because the Franklin County Board of Elections needed the hearing completed 90 days before election so that the proposed change can be placed before town voters, according to Town Supervisor Richard Onufer.

“It’s screwy because of the way the system works,” Onufer said.

Town Clerk Susan Prue followed up with concern over whether the item could be placed on the ballot by the Board of Elections before the Town Board had actually voted on the referendum, but Onufer thought that since there wasn’t another way around it, the board should be able to move forward in the way it did.

“I think as long as they have our assurance that we’re going to pass [the change in the law], it will be all right,” he said.

The new law went through multiple revisions before the hearing. Initially, the law was set to pass without a public hearing, but since the law removes an elected position from the town, a hearing had to be held.

The town has made several changes to the assessor’s post in the past year, voting first to replace a three-member elected board of assessors with a single elected official. The board had initially wanted to create the appointed assessor post last year but opted to stay with an elected position after input from a public hearing on the proposed change.

The town scrapped the board of assessors because of the difficulty in finding people willing to run for it. Other towns, both locally and nationally, have had difficulty finding anyone to take an assessor’s post, in part because of the amount of training required.

Relating to the planned shift to a sole assessor, the town will have another hearing on Aug. 13 to hear public opinion on moving grievance day to early June from its current date in late May. The hearing will take place at 7 p.m., to be followed by a regular meeting.

The board also decided to postpone all further paving jobs as budgets tighten.

“My thought is to not do any more paving at this point in time,” said Onufer.

Onufer also said the town only has enough money at this time to pay for this month’s highway bills and one payroll.

Superintendent of Highways Larry Martin said that the leftover CHIPS money that will go unused due to the halt should roll over into next year.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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