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A Message from the President

Dennis R. Ketcham, IAO

President, New York State Assessors’ Association


Three score and fifteen years ago, our fathers brought forth to this association, a new idea;  to improve the standards of assessing practice, conceived in professionalism, and dedicated to the proposition of improving assessment administration.

I, as the 70  before me, stand before you honored to serve as the next president of the NYSAA, as we gather here tonight to celebrate our 75th anniversary.

I appreciate the respect and confidence shown to me as WE lead this association into the next chapter of our existence. I thank you; the membership of the NYSAA for your continued commitment to this association, your presence here is a testament of your commitment to our future.

Please allow me to offer my personal thanks to my support staff, my advisors, my occasional person to vent to.  I need to acknowledge the 2 individuals most responsible for my standing before you tonight, Past Presidents Bill Quick, IAO & Tim Sheares, IAO who each came to me separately and suggested I may wish to consider running for the Executive Board. You two have put me on a wild ride.
Thank you to the Orange County Assessors Association for the wine glasses at your setting (that I could not begin to tell you how many minute details went into the planning thereof) and the Ulster County Assessors Association for the bottles of wine on your tables. Thank you to the various members of the current, preceding, and now future executive boards and employees for all your hard work. No contemporary acceptance speech would be complete without acknowledging Pat & Tom Frey for all they have done for me personally & professionally.

I would like to thank my various town supervisors but I can’t because none of them made the effort to be here. A special acknowledgment to late Town of Mount Hope Supervisor Bill Novak with whom I had the honor of working across the hall from for 20 years, Bill died tragically in a fire last year and had looked forward to tonight for my entire tenure on the board. My staff at the Town of Montgomery Assessors office, and my clerk/data collector in the Town of Forestburgh, without whose support, I could not do what I do. My family and my partner "karaoke" David seated over there. Missing from that table is my niece Shelly and her husband, because as we were playing trivia last night, they were welcoming their first child into the world.

The M&M’s in your wine glasses are there in memory of my mother, who passed away unexpectedly last year, and would argue to you that M&M’s were a balanced meal.

It would be impossible tonight to speak of the future without speaking of the past. Like when J. Todd Wiley said in 2004 that “The skills required by an assessor are expanding , Today we must be appraisers, accountants, lawyers, statisticians, IT officers and public relations experts” or as Edye McCarthy said in 1998, “professionalism is the core of who we should be . In order to be credible we must be professional, and in order to be professional , we must be educated.” True then, true today.  In 1997 Barbara Bounds said “the birth of this exemption (referring to a new exemption called STAR) is just like the birth of a new baby. Our lives as assessors will never be the same again” No truer words were ever spoken. Roger Tibbetts spoke of VALUES, Sam Lomando spoke of integrity, responsibility and reliability.  Further stealing an Albert Einstein quote from Todd, he said the most powerful thing Albert Einstein ever encountered was “compound interest.”  Before we can compound it we must first create it, Benjamin Franklin said “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest”. In 1940 we do not know what they may have spoken of at that first meeting, or dinner, but I suspect it would have been many of the same sediments that are still echoing today. 

I have only been an assessor for 30% of the 75 year existence of this organization, and have witnessed the reduction of required credit hours, star state aid disappeared, RP-324 is history, Legislative Action Day went by the wayside. And most importantly the Orange/Ulster/Sullivan hospitality room at Cornell died a painless death, RIP Assessor Jim Ritter.To quote George Bernerd Shaw, “we are made wise not by the recollection of the past but the responsibility for our future.”

I was asked at this conference what my agenda was for the next year, while I would like to say that I was going to fix the atrocities delivered to us by the Office of Real Property Tax Service in the last 75 years, too many to list,  I cannot say it, I cannot do it. What I can say however is that our organization will act, everyday,  as a stop gap between you the assessor and  ORPTS to filter, clean up and minimize the mayhem coming from ORPTS & the legislature.

To conclude as I began, It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us, that this association of the members, by the members, and for the members, shall not perish from New York State.