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EMBATTLED ASSESSOR WILL LEAVE POST BY JAN. 1

Linda Yancey, the embattled Orchard Park assessor, has agreed to leave her post by Jan. 1.

In negotiations with the Town Board, Yancey reached an agreement that will see her take a leave of absence by Jan. 1 "or sooner." It will last until Oct. 1, when she will retire.

The leave of absence will be paid, said Yancey and Orchard Park Supervisor Toni Cudney.

"The simplest way to put it is politics opened the door and I've decided to walk through it to retirement," Yancey said. "Actually, I met an awful lot of really good people in Orchard Park in the overall."

The assessor came under fire after doing an equity update that increased assessments by as much as 200 percent to 300 percent for some properties.

Yancey said the properties were the ones with assessments most out of line with actual valuations.

The owners, mostly from the more rural southern part of Orchard Park, have filed lawsuits against the town, alleging selective "spot" assessments.

Yancey also became a favorite target at Town Board meetings, with some audience members accusing her of rude behavior, and a smaller number defending her.

"I just felt she wasn't the right fit for our community," said Councilman John Mills, who had called for her to resign. "I'll be pressing for a user-friendly assessor that's someone the entire board can support and the community can support."

Mills will be leading the search for a replacement.

Mills said he would like to have a new assessor in place around Jan. 1, but that he wouldn't rush the search.

"There's a lot of things that have to be discussed and evaluated before we appoint someone," he said. "We have to see what the status of the office is, what shape it's in.

"I'm going to probably ask (Yancey's predecessor) Terry Campbell if he'll lend some support in the meantime. If worse comes to worse, we can have the county certify the roll next spring, if we have to."

Yancey's departure is expected to have no effect on lawsuits pending against the town.

Cudney, who had been Yancey's staunchest supporter on the board, supported the agreement.

"I believe it is best that we pursue this course of action in the best interest of all the parties involved," Cudney said.

Yancey said she wasn't sure what her immediate plans are beyond some fall activities with her small winery in the Finger Lakes region.

"I'm a general appraiser and I'm an (assessment) instructor, and I've got all kinds of things up in the air right now," Yancey said.

"So actually, I'm pretty happy about the whole thing. I'm just kind of waiting until whatever is perfect comes along before I do anything else."

e-mail: eploetz@buffnews.com

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