New Canaan’s two selectmen on Tuesday pushed back on a recommendation to eliminate a $400 annual payment for members of an elected body that fields tax assessment appeals from property owners.
One member of the Board of Assessment Appeals himself or herself requested that the payment be eliminated, according to First Selectman Kevin Moynihan.
“So at the request of at least one member of the Board of Assessment Appeals, we are recommending that we eliminate those payments,” Moynihan said during the selectmen’s regular meeting, held at Town Hall. “Let volunteers be volunteers.”
Selectman Kit Devereaux said she disagreed with the move.
“I have spoken with people that sat on it previously and one that is sitting on it now,” Devereaux said. “They don’t even get lunch money and these are days out of their work and so I think $400 a year is about 4 cents an hour.”
Moynihan asked Devereaux whether she would rather increase the payment.
“No, I would rather just leave it be,” she said. “Have some lunch. They put in grueling, long, full days.”
The three-member Board of Assessment Appeals must meet at least three times each March and at least once each September, under the Town Charter. This year, the Board was scheduled to meet six times in March and once in September, according to meeting agenda and minutes records on the town’s website.
To Devereaux’s description of the Board’s long days, Moynihan said, “So does the Planning & Zoning Commission. So does the Board of Finance.”
Devereaux said, “But not during the day as they do, and some of these actively work so they have to take vacation days.”
Selectman Nick Williams said that although he wasn’t aware that Board of Assessment Appeals members were being paid $400 annually that he was “not prepared” to make a change without knowing the history of the payment.
“At some point somebody made the determination that this particular volunteer body deserved some bit of compensation,” Williams said.
Ultimately the selectmen agreed to “table” the proposed elimination of the payment.
In an uncontested race earlier this month, Jennifer Donovan, David Hunt and Barbara Shaw were elected to the Board of Assessment Appeals.