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Deal approved to share assessor with Clarence

The Lancaster Town Board on Monday approved an agreement with the Town of Clarence to share the services, and split the costs, of Clarence Assessor Christine A. Fusco.

Lancaster expects to pay $65,000 per year for the services of Fusco, who will split her time between the two towns. Lancaster will pay a prorated amount for the first year of the agreement, which runs through the end of 2013, because Fusco won't begin working for Lancaster until this week.

"The Assessor's Office indicated that they need somebody, and this seemed to be the best thing. You know, it's maybe not perfect, but I think it's the best thing we can do for the time," Lancaster Supervisor Dino J. Fudoli said at a work session that preceded Monday's Town Board meeting, where the agreement was approved, 5-0.

Fusco succeeds David C. Marrano, who left the post of Lancaster assessor in February to take over as assessor for Tonawanda town and city.

The Clarence Town Board approved the shared-services agreement last week after weeks of negotiations among Fudoli, Clarence Supervisor David C. Hartzell Jr. and attorneys representing the two towns.

The pact runs through Dec. 31, 2013, but either town could end the agreement with 60 days' notice after the end of this year.

Fudoli said at the work session that the agreement with Clarence "doesn't exclude us from shopping around" for a shared-services agreement with another town. He mentioned that Alden Supervisor Harry F. "Bud" Milligan had reached out to him in recent weeks to express an interest in this.

But Fusco was an obvious choice to succeed Marrano because she served as Lancaster assessor for 12 years before leaving that position in 2007 to take the post in Clarence. Under the agreement, she will remain a Clarence employee.

Fusco had earned about $70,000 per year in salary from Clarence, which spent a total of about $100,000 for her services when benefits are included.

She will see an increase to $90,000 in annual salary, bringing her total cost to Clarence to about $130,000. Lancaster will pay half of that amount, about $65,000 per year, though Clarence officials will inform their Lancaster counterparts of the precise figure for 2012 at the end of the year, Fudoli said Monday.

Councilman Mark S. Aquino said at the work session he wants to make sure that, if the final cost to Clarence ends up being less than $130,000 per year, the savings would be passed along to Lancaster.

Lancaster expects to save $41,000 per year on the cost of assessor services because Marrano's salary and benefits amounted to $106,000 per year, Fudoli said previously.

The town will pay about 75 percent of the $65,000 for 2012 because Fusco didn't work in Lancaster for the first three months of the year.

Lancaster has more parcels than Clarence, but officials for the towns determined that it would be best to divide Fusco's time -- and cost -- evenly, Fudoli said Monday.

Fusco will spend two days each week in Clarence, two days in Lancaster and the fifth day of each week rotating between the towns.