EDITOR’S NOTE: This editorial was sent to publish prior to Bethlehem Town Supervisor John Clarkson’s announcement to which he stated he would not seek re-election this November.
Last week’s news of the recollect in Bethlehem struck a nerve with local residents. Since last week’s edition, Laurie Lambertsen, the town’s assessor, sent us a statement to clarify her department’s intentions through this upcoming process. Below is that statement, in its entirety:
At the March 22 Town Board meeting I left the impression that the firm assisting with the residential inventory recollection work would be asking to enter all houses. That will not happen. The appraisers will knock on doors to identify themselves when on a homeowner’s property, only after homeowners have been notified that they will be in the neighborhood. Basically they will be measuring the outside dimensions of the house, and they may confirm some information if a homeowner is present, but they will NOT ask to go inside to count rooms, bathrooms, etc. As Assessor, I may request an interior inspection if there is a big disparity between the current inventory on file and what was recollected, but the homeowner’s permission would be needed. I’ll present a more complete description of how this process will work at the next board meeting, as will have a written description available online. We want to have everyone’s data recorded correctly, because it’s unfair if someone’s taxes are based on an inaccurate description of their property. But this isn’t a reassessment, and homeowners values only will be changed if major discrepancies are found.
Town of Bethlehem
When it comes to town politics, we don’t envy the jobs of the town supervisor, board members, nor that of Ms. Lambersten’s. Every step taken to do the right thing always has an opponent standing in the wings to criticize. So, when something is misspoken, or left to interpretation, those opposing voices grow louder.
The backlash was swift last week, and the town’s subsequent reaction was equally as quick. We’ll reiterate what we wrote last week — the timing stinks. At least, the timing is unfortunate for Supervisor John Clarkson. The unpopular reassessment from a few years ago is still fresh in residents’ minds. With the process, as it was initially described, sounding similar to procedures usually reserved under reassessments, it is no wonder another presentation is scheduled for the next town board meeting. It’s a situation that needs clarifying well before November.
Next Wednesday, April 12, Ms. Lambersten stands before the town board again to explain. It’s not a reassessment. Not the one town residents remember a few years ago. This go around, the town is taking inventory of its information. Staying outside, and collecting property dimensions. In regards to timing, it something the town hasn’t done in approximately 25 years. Nonetheless, the need for this process will be shared on the 12th. We anticipate more residents in attendance to hear it directly from the town.