Gowanda eliminates assessor position

GOWANDA – The village of Gowanda will no longer have an assessor but will continue with animal control. The Gowanda Village Board made the decision at a recent board meeting.

When the village board passed its annual budget, funding for the animal control officer and the assessor were cut. The village board kept the option to keep both positions following public hearings in which residents voiced support in favor of keeping the positions. Mayor Heather McKeever also had a meeting with representatives from both the town of Collins and Persia to discuss options regarding assessing and animal control.

Before the decision, George Stark, current assessor, spoke to the board. He said no one on the town of Persia’s grievance board lives within the village. Stark suggested the village wait until July 1 until both the town budgets are available. Stark urged the village to slow down on making this decision. He referred to the notable saying, “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.”

“Make a mock tax roll and figure up the tax rate. Come up with an impact statement,” he said.

McKeever thanked all those who came to the meeting to voice their opinions. She gave a breakdown of figures in the budget and how adding in the additional monies for the assessor and animal control position would affect the budget. McKeever spoke with representatives from the state office of real property who suggested the village eliminate the assessor. Accord-ing to McKeever due to the village’s evaluation rate, the village tax roll is in danger of being thrown out by the office of real property. With a vote of 3 to 1, the motion to eliminate the assessor was approved. The village will use the town’s assessments.

For the animal control officer, McKeever said the village never dealt with dogs.

The village has ordinances in the code book regarding leash laws and barking laws but residents call the town’s dog control officer if there is a problem.

“Animal and dog control are two different things,” McKeever said.

McKeever said they have decided to let the towns take care of dogs since the towns get the revenue from dog licenses. Since the village has laws in their code book regarding barking or nuisance dogs, McKeever will work with both towns in order to transition the codes over to the towns. While McKeever was in favor of keeping the animal control position for a year term, she wanted to appoint a new officer effective June 1. According to McKeever, Mary Dankert, who currently holds the position, has not submitted a report to the village since August, and the village has no proof of her being certified by the Department of Environmental Conservation. McKeever appointed Justin Wallschlaeger for the term of one year at a salary of $3,000.

“We’re keeping the service which is what (the public) wanted,” McKeever said.

For now, the village will not add the money in for animal control officer into the budget. At a later date, the village will have to amend the budget but must wait until revenues come in. The board will work on reviewing and adjusting the codes at the next meeting on June 11.

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