Incoming Schenectady assessor discusses council questions and concerns
SCHENECTADY The man who will be Schenectady’s next assessor has lived in the city since 1990, he said Wednesday after the City Council held a contentious debate over how much to pay him.
Edward Waterfield is currently the supervisor of the city Bureau of Receipts, where residents pay their taxes. He applied for the assessor position after Mayor Gary McCarthy said he wouldn’t renew Assessor Tina Dimitriadis’ contract because she doesn’t live in the city.
McCarthy plans to appoint Waterfield to the position, even though he is not a certified assessor.
Waterfield said his work as city tax collector made him a clear candidate for the position. He also was an assistant vice president at a bank, handling mortgages, before he took his job with the city.
“I think it just fits in with what I’ve been doing for the last 20 years,” he said.
He also said he has no plans to retire soon, squelching complaints that he might take the job for a two-year term solely to increase his pension and then retire. His pension would be $5,000 higher under that scenario.
But Waterfield said he has no plans to retire.
He also responded to concerns from Councilman Carl Erikson regarding the impartiality of any assessor who lives in the city.
Erikson said Tuesday that an assessor might have difficulty accurately valuing the worth of a neighbor’s house.
Waterfield said he wouldn’t hesitate.
“Anybody that knows me knows that I will do what I think is fair and right,” he said.
He added that taxpayers often beg him to waive penalties for late payments.
“Anybody who knows me won’t ask because they know what the answer will be,” he said.
McCarthy also said he would expect any assessor to value every property fairly, regardless of who owned it.
“I’m going to hire people who are going to live here and are going to perform at the level expected,” he said.
The mayor can select department heads. The council can only weigh in on the mayor’s proposed $9,000 salary increase for the position.
On Tuesday, the council agreed in committee to increase the assessor’s salary by $4,500 when Waterfield takes office. After he becomes a certified assessor, they said, he could have the other $4,500.
The council will vote on the compromise next Monday. But Councilwoman Marion Porterfield questioned whether the council should pay Waterfield $81,828 when Dimitriadis was willing to work for $73,000.
Erikson said the council was told, behind closed doors, that $82,000 was the market rate for local assessors.
However, the assessor in Troy is paid $72,299. In the Capital Region, that city is most similar to Schenectady in terms of size and population.
Waterfield is currently paid $72,825 in his Bureau of Receipts post.