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A Message from the President
Barbara J. Bounds, IAO
President, New York State Assessors' Association
1997 - 1998

Thanks to all of you for having the confidence in me to be the President of the New York State Assessors' Association. I am truly overwhelmed by your sincere kindness and support.

I would like express my gratitude to the Ontario County Assessors' Association, my partner Henry Hall, my very good friends Shirley Bement and Joan Cooley, and Larry Scott, Supervisor of the Town of Farmington.

While reviewing the many fine past presidents messages, many of the same thoughts and ideas were mentioned - dedication, professionalism, reliability, and credibility. These same issues keep showing up year after year. This year, however, we have something new to look forward to.

As you may or may not know, music is a very important part of my life. A song has been written for every occasion. Over the past year, and especially since the state budget passed, one song has been "stuck" in my head. In fact, I believe that it is one of the first songs I learned on the piano - "Twinkle, twinkle, little star, how I wonder what you are?"

I am sure that your reaction to the STAR legislation was the same as mine - complete amazement. How will we ever handle the volume of applications? Where will we store them? What about all those mobile homes and cooperatives? Everyone in the assessing profession, including ORPS staff was astonished. Each RPTAC meeting, Star was always on the agenda. We were all sure that this new program would become law, but we were not sure in what form and when.

Well fellow assessors - "A STAR is Born."

The birth of this exemption is just like the birth of a new baby. Our lives as assessors will never be the same again. This is an exciting time!

ORPS had done an outstanding job preparing the way for us to administer this program, designing the application form and developing a pamphlet to address taxpayers questions. They have also reached out to the assessment community by speaking at our local meetings and answering difficult questions that arise with any new program. They have quickly distributed the 2.2 million dollars in state aid in a fair manner. I personally want to thank ORPS for their advice and assistance. It is greatly appreciated.

STAR may be our only chance we ever have to improve upon our image. We must utilize this opportunity wisely. Our reputation is like a hangover, it's awfully hard to get rid of it.

Try to speak to each taxpayer that applies for the exemption. It seems the only time we get an opportunity to talk with vast numbers of taxpayers is during a revaluation, and that meeting isn't usually a positive one. This opportunity will be different, because you will be giving them an exemption.

Expand your public relations program to include STAR. Contact the local service clubs in your area. Offer to attend their meetings and present a program. I know they will be eager to have you, especially since every taxpayer is entitled to an exemption for school taxes. Your county association could help develop some guidelines to make this process easier.

The Assessment Office will finally become known as a friendlier place. I believe that we have an opportunity to increase our credibility. This may be our only opportunity, so let's seize the moment.

Lastly, don't forget to file a STAR application for your own personal property, as we are also entitled to take part in this program.

Please remember, when you and your staff are knee deep in forms and taxpayers are lined up outside the door, "Always look for the positive - when your in a ditch, at least flip over to see the stars." Thank you.