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TOWN NEGOTIATING FOR COUNTY TO DO ASSESSMENTS

In what may be another example of intergovernment cooperation in Erie County, Grand Island officials are negotiating a deal for the county to take over its assessing duties.

The Town Board on Monday directed the town attorney to draft an agreement with county officials to replace the town's retiring assessor with a part-time county worker.

Supervisor Peter A. McMahon said the assessment proposal -- which is being closely watch by other communities -- could save the town $25,000 to $50,000 a year.

"We may be the first of a number of them, so in that sense we may be a leader," McMahon said. "But it was a function of timing."

The timing is good, he said, because James Milne is retiring this month as Grand Island's assessor.

The county offered the town four options for taking over its assessing duties.

Grand Island officials favor the plan that calls for the town to pay the salary of a county employee who would work half time for the town.

The town would pay the employee $25,000 per year and have some say in the hiring, McMahon said. Town officials are negotiating a one-year pilot agreement that would be reviewed next year, he said.

In addition to Milne, the town has two full-time and one half-time employee in the office. The county recommended that the town eliminate one of those full-time employees.

Town officials aren't enthusiastic about that recommendation and say layoffs aren't part of the agreement they are negotiating.

McMahon said he hopes to have the draft of the agreement finished within one month.

Grand Island would be the first town to allow the county to take over its assessing duties.

Deputy County Executive Carl J. Calabrese has said six other communities are interested in having the county take over assessing work or merging their assessing operations with those of a neighboring municipality.

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