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An Oct. 8 editorial that ran under the tag line "Straighten Out Assessing" struck a nerve with this Niagara Falls assessor, as well as, I am sure, with every other assessor throughout Western New York who read it.

The News' opinion on countywide assessing is just that -- its opinion. However, the opinion that assessing real property for tax purposes now takes skill that is "more of the accounting variety" is absurd.

Assessors throughout the state have worked diligently to obtain recognition as professionals in their field, and to even suggest that their duties might be done by an accountant by just flipping a switch on a computer would be almost laughable if it were not so insulting.

Assessor training and certification is a stringent and time-consuming process that everyassessor goes through. Continuing education is required by New York State law for every assessor. Many assessors are also state-certified appraisers.

It's true that computerization has streamlined the assessment process.

But who enters the data, prepares the models, delineates the neighborhoods, reviews the sales, inspects the property, builds the capitalization rates, compiles the commercial factor file, interprets the income and expense forms, talks to the taxpayers, politicians and media and still has time to administer the STAR exemption, veterans exemption, seniorsexemption and at least 10 other exemptions?

Indeed, as The News said, the job still takes skill. Theeditorial's statement that "it's more of the accounting variety" discredits men and women who are truly educated professionals who care about producing an equitable assessment roll.

They deserve more credit and respect than The News editorial gives them.

DOMINIC L. PENALE JR. Vice President, Niagara
County Assessors Association
Niagara Falls

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