Monday, Oct 23rd

Last updateMon, 23 Oct 2017 6pm

You are here: Home Village Voices Village Considers Hiring Consultants to Conduct an Organizational Evaluation of the Assessor's Office
first
  
last
 
 
start
stop
first
  
last
 
 
start
stop

Village Considers Hiring Consultants to Conduct an Organizational Evaluation of the Assessor's Office

management-consultingIn an effort to restore public trust in the Scarsdale Village Assessor's Office after the controversial 2016 revaluation, Village Managers are proposing to retain a professional consulting company to do an organization assessment of the office. The consultants would study the current workings of the office, analyze processes, research best practices in other municipalities and make recommendations to improve their effectiveness and efficiency.

Looking toward the next revaluation the consultants would investigate technologies and methodologies to give the Village a roadmap toward selecting a vendor to conduct future revaluations. Village Manager Steve Pappalardo maintained that bringing in an outside firm to conduct the evaluation would help build community confidence in the results.

Pappalardo said that the Village had contacted four potential firms, met with three and received proposals from two. After evaluating both proposals Pappalardo recommended that the Village retain Management Partners from Cincinnati, Ohio at a cost of $34,990 for 179 hours of work. Management Partners also brought in a subcontractor, John Burin, who has expertise in assessments to assist with the job.

On Tuesday night 2-28 the Trustees invited Kevin Knutson from Management Partners and John Burin to make a presentation and answer questions. Knutson said he was a former Village Manager of Coral Gables Florida who now works at Management Partners, an 80-person firm with over 700 clients in 41 states.

He introduced John Burin who is a former city manager in Elmira, an assessor and the former owner of an appraisal company. He said his role would be to "eliminate the controversy over the revaluation," and to "Come up with recommendations on how we can do things more efficiently and transparently." The consultants would interview communities that have been successful with keeping assessments up to date and determine what software and methodologies they use to maintain valuations at market rate.

Both the Trustees and residents in attendance questioned the consultants intensively. Trustee Marc Samwick wanted to know if the outcome of the project would be specific recommendations on whether the Village should conduct another revaluation or set up a continuous process to update valuations. Deb Pekarek wanted to know if the consultants would investigate potential revaluation vendors and provide costs. Matt Callaghan asked if the consultants would provide a timeline of deliverables.

Burin came under particular scrutiny because some said that Elmira real estate was in no way similar to that of Scarsdale. He said, "We didn't have the values you have in Scarsdale in Elmira, but we did have big shifts in commercial vs. residential values. It was very controversial. Assessment offices in New York are all governed by the New York State Office of Real Property and everyone is dealing with the same thing."

Audience members questioned Burin about his experience and found that he conducted revaluations in the 1990's and was not familiar with the software that is now used but Burin said that Management Partners would provide technological expertise.

Others asked if the consultants would meet with the public to get their views on the issues.

Though the consultant's task was to analyze the organization and the processes, Robert Berg questioned the assignment saying, "We all know what the problems are." Trustee Bill Stern responded and said, "I take exception to Bob's statement that everyone knows what the problem is – everyone does not agree – there are issues that need to be dissected. Anyone who comes in with bias is not doing a service."

Berg asked, "How can we be confident if you're not familiar with the models?"

Michael Levine said, "You both mentioned efficiency. It's not an issue of efficiency and not an issue of building permits or exemptions. If you think those are the issues you're not up to speed. The issues are supervision. Problems in the department were not elevated to the Village Managers and the Board. There are issues with public trust and acceptance. How did we get to this credibility issue? That's why I think you are here."

Steve Pappalardo assured Levine that "The firm is fully aware of what happened. They are going to do an overall management study of that office. They are not going to come out with a recommendation on building the proper model. But we are going to come out with a plan to hire a new firm to do a revaluation."

The Trustees said they would mull over the meeting and come up with a recommendation after subsequent discussion.

Comments   

+28 #6 Bob Selvaggio 2017-03-06 20:09
Hi Chris,
Thank you for reading our position statement; we're quite sure that most voters think that to make an informed vote it's important to know where candidates actually stand on the issues -- else we would simply win by dint of our extraordinary good looks, fancy university degrees and all around good-guyness. But seriously, you are of course 100% right to be asking these questions. The answer is that Bob, Brice, Carlos and I do not anticipate ending the collection of grass clippings or other garden refuse or ending the collection of trash behind houses. That said, I personally prefer to leave the clippings on my lawn and bring my trash cans to the curb. But many of my neighbors do not, and that is their prerogative. Check out the 10583 listing of Town Hall meetings and come meet us at ours on March 15 at the Congregational Church-- we look forward to your questions and your suggestions!
Quote
-33 #5 Purpose of CNC Misunderstood 2017-03-06 14:03
Deliberately or not, this question misunderstands the nature of the citizens' nominating (CNC) process. The idea is to find the best qualified persons for the position of Trustee and then, once in office, for these persons to make decisions on specific issues based on best available information and informed discussion. The process purposely avoids asking for positions on issues in favor of choosing people who have the freedom to make the best informed decisions once in office. A diversity of thought is maintained, rather than potentially false promises or simply advocating what people want to hear, regardless of practicality.

Quoting Chris Parker:
I just received a summary of what the Scarsdale Voters Choice Party's position is on various subjects. I would appreciate a similar summary from the Scarsadle Citizen's Non-Partisan Party on the same issues (please add any issues you feel appropriate). Question for the SVCP: your position is that you want to get tax increases under control - What do you propose to cut to do so? Are you going to revisit discontinuing the pick up of grass clippings or the picking up of trash behind houses instead of curbside?
Thank you
Quote
+17 #4 Chris Parker 2017-03-05 17:25
I just received a summary of what the Scarsdale Voters Choice Party's position is on various subjects. I would appreciate a similar summary from the Scarsadle Citizen's Non-Partisan Party on the same issues (please add any issues you feel appropriate). Question for the SVCP: your position is that you want to get tax increases under control - What do you propose to cut to do so? Are you going to revisit discontinuing the pick up of grass clippings or the picking up of trash behind houses instead of curbside?
Thank you
Quote
+63 #3 Bob Selvaggio 2017-03-02 16:27
Let's elect a Mayor and Trustees on March 21 who are sufficiently competent to oversee the hiring of an Assessor who knows how to run an Assessor's office.

This is not rocket science folks; we all know almost everything there is to know about the roles of the major players in the Ryan-gate scandal and the rest will be revealed with the remaining FOIL releases. For what possible good reason would we waste our taxpayers' hard-earned money hiring a consulting firm to tell us to do what anyone with an ounce of managerial or entrepreneurial experience would have done months ago?
Quote
+14 #2 Mayra Kirkendall-Rodriguez 2017-03-02 07:25
I wrote the mayor and board of trustees several weeks ago advocating that a municipal consultant not be hired. We have numerous Scarsdalians who are very qualified consultants in multiple technical fields, who could be part of an ad hoc committee to evaluate the Assessor's office. Instead, the mayor and board of trustees have allowed the same person, Village Manager Pappalardo, who did not supervise Assessor Albanese or her hand picked consultant, J. F. Ryan, to pick a municipal consultant. There continues to be no transparency at Village Hall. What other consultants submitted proposals? What framework did the Village Manager use to evaluate them? Why were residents not allowed to view other consultants' proposals? I urge all Scarsdalians to view the vdeo of Tuesday's meeting to see how poorly qualified this municipal consultant and his subcontracted assistant are. They exhibited no modeling or compter appraisal modeling skills. They exhibited no knowlege of the intricacies of the Scarsdale property market. The Mayor and BOT need to improve oversight of the Village Manager and the Assessor. Since July, I have read thousands of emails I obtained under the Freedom of Information Law. The most important lesson from the emails is that the current and previous administrations did not and are not supervising Village Personnel. Scarsdalians, to Village officials and personnel, you must say 'no, to wasting our dough!'
Quote
+17 #1 Robert Berg 2017-03-01 23:22
Let's not waste more taxpayer dollars simply to provide political cover to the Village Manager and the Board of Trustees for their failure to oversee the Assessor's Office during the horribly flawed Ryan revaluation. As I have told the Board publicly two times now, there's no need for outside consultants to tell us what everyone who has been following the reval issue for the past 3 years knows painfully well. The Assessor, the Village Manager, two successive mayors, and successive Boards of Trustees all spectacularly dropped the ball with respect to the JF Ryan revaluation.

The whole idea of a second revaluation immediately after the Tyler revaluation was fundamentally flawed from the outset. The selection of John Ryan should have been a non-starter since he had just blessed the Tyler revaluation as the Village's monitor and now was seeking to perform a second one because suddenly the Tyler reval was no good.

Moreover, no one ever vetted Ryan. Had the Village Manager or members of the Board just googled him, they would have found that he screwed up the revaluation in the Town of Rockingham, Vermont so badly that the State of Vermont no longer allows him to perform revaluations there. They would have found that his work in the City of Norwalk, Connecticut wreaked havoc, and that trouble followed John Ryan like the dust cloud that envelops Pig Pen, the Peanuts character.

Once Ryan was let loose upon Scarsdale, neither the Assessor, the Village Manager, nor the Mayors and Trustees understood what he was doing. (Sadly, Ryan didn't understand what he was doing either). No one supervised the Assessor. No one monitored what Ryan was doing.

I personally, along with Bob Harrison and a few others, challenged the Trustees and Mayors on several occasions to stop the Ryan madness. They did nothing. After Ryan's catastrophic performance in April 2016 at an unpublicized Village Board meeting, I begged the Trustees and Mayor to pull the plug on the Ryan reval, presciently calling it a "train wreck waiting to happen." I was ignored. And what a train wreck it has been.

So why do we need an outside consultant to come in and tell us what went wrong and what we need to do to fix it? The answer is so obvious. The Assessor must be held accountable for the abject failure of this project which has caused enormous monetary damages to many Village residents. The Village Manager needs to do what he is well-paid to do -- and that is manage Village staff.

We've already spent over $37,000 with outside attorneys, Bond Shoeneck & King, analyzing what went wrong in the Assessor's Office. What can these outside consultants possibly tell us that we don't already know? That the Assessor's Office doesn't interact well with the public? That the Assessor's Office doesn't process exemption requests carefully? What a joke!

After listening to the outside consultants last night and questioning them myself, I think it became clear to most residents in attendance that whatever the bona fides of these consultants, they aren't right for this project. They weren't keyed in to the specific problems at issue in Scarsdale. They don't have any significant recent experience in analyzing the operations of an assessor's office. They have never handled mass village-wide appraisals in a wealthy community with a diverse housing stock like Scarsdale, and neither Management Partners nor John Burin, their outside appraisal "expert" has any expertise in mass appraisal modeling which John Ryan misapplied with disastrous effects in Scarsdale.

So, even if hiring an outside consultant to review our Assessor's office is a good idea -- and I think it is not -- hiring Management Partners and John Burin would be another costly mistake.

The Village really needs to cut down on the use of expensive outside consultants to deal with problems that should be well within the competency of our highly skilled and well-compensate d Village Manager's office and Village staff. We need a Mayor and Trustees who will not be afraid to supervise and make sure our residents' tax dollars are used wisely. That's why I'm running for Mayor and my running mates Bob Selvaggio, Brice Kirkendall-Rodr iguez, and Carlos Ramirez are running for Village Trustee on our newly formed Voters Choice Party slate. Remember to vote for Row B in the Village election on March 21, 2017. After 106 years of one party rule in Scarsdale, it's time for a change, don't you think?
Quote

Add comment

first
  
last
 
 
start
stop