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The Times
  • Little Falls remains without an assessor

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  • The city of Little Falls remains without an assessor.
    During Tuesday's Common Council meeting, no action was taken to appoint a part-time assessor, nor was there any action toward another option outside of a vote to explore a possible shared services agreement with another municipality.
    "As there are contracts involved, the city, if it were to appoint an individual as its part-time assessor, would have to have a shared services agreement in place with the municipality the individual currently provides assessment services for," Mayor Robert Peters said after Tuesday evening's Common Council meeting. "The city cannot just appoint an individual as assessor without first contacting the municipality he or she is currently the assessor for. That was the advice we were given by our attorney."
    In August, the Common Council voted 6 - 2 against appointing Joy Presta, who had served as part-time city assessor from Jan. 8 to Sept. 30, to a six-year term that would have begun on Oct. 1 and continued through Sept. 30, 2020.
    In September, the council voted to send Presta a letter informing her of their decision and that her term as assessor would expire on Sept. 30.
    Presta has filed a complaint against First Ward Alderman Jeffrey Gressler, Herkimer County Administrator James Wallace and Herkimer County Clerk Carole LaLonde alleging their actions "have intentionally interfered with and undermined the plaintiff's performance of her lawful duties, defamed her professional reputation and caused the loss of her county employment," according to a Herkimer County Supreme Court summons.
    It also is alleged that the defendants denied Presta her civil rights, damaged her name and professional reputation and damaged her financially. The defendants also caused Presta "mental distress and anguish," according to the summons.
    "The good thing is that there is not a backlog of work in the assessor's office, so if the city has to go a few weeks without an assessor I do not believe it will be a problem," said Peters. "Of course, something could always come up, which is why I would like to see a special meeting scheduled before the end of the month. The city has to reach out to other municipalities first to see if an agreement can be reached. Once the city does that, the council will be able to take it from there."
    The city advertised for a part-time assessor after the Common Council's August vote and received a number of responses from individuals. The city has also discussed contracting with the Herkimer County Real Property Tax Service for the provision of assessment services. The city's previous contact with the county was for about $22,000 annually.
    The cost of appointing a part-time city assessor was not readily available Tuesday, as Peters said that would be part of a shared services agreement.
    The Common Council voted 6 - 1 to explore a possible shared services agreement with another municipality after a 17-minute executive session.
    Page 2 of 2 - Gressler clarified the reason for the executive session was not to discuss the assessor's position, "but to discuss particular people for the position."
    Fourth Ward Alderman Richard Congdon was absent from Tuesday's meeting.
    Fourth Ward Alderman Daniel Carter cast the no vote.
    In other business Tuesday evening, the council adopted Local Law No. 1 of 2013 and Local Law No. 2 of 2013, which set the salary of the city treasurer at $54,116.59 for the year, payable for 23 pay periods at a rate of $2,011.02, two pay periods of $2,594.83 and one pay period of $2,673.47, and the salary of the city clerk at $36,757.88 for the year, payable for 23 pay periods at a rate of $1,365.96, two pay periods of $1,762.50 and one pay period of $1,815.80.
    Peters announced the city's annual Halloween parade will take place at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 31, with trick or treating beginning after the parade and continuing until 7:30 p.m.
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