Last week, David Galarneau, the tax assessor that Westport shares with Elizabethtown and Willsboro, met with Westport residents at the Town Hall. Mr. Galarneau's appearance was arranged by the Tax Committee of the Future for Westport campaign, and the idea was to have a public information meeting and general Q & A, rather than a chance to air individual grievances.
The first thing he said was that he'd made a mistake in the most recent round of assessments that over-valued a significant number of properties. He wants us all to know that the property owners who received the incorrect assessments don't have to do anything. The assessments will be corrected whether you file a grievance or not, and the county will send out notices about the corrections to affected property owners by early May.
The other main point he made was that he wanted to encourage landowners to come in and update the information he has about their property. You can find out what's on record at the Town Hall or the office of Real Property in Elizabethtown. If the information on record is out of date, you could be paying more than you should.
Mr. Galarneau encouraged anyone dissatisfied with their assessment to come to him. He said that he would be eager to explain how he arrived at the assessment and to correct any over-valuation. You can make an appointment to meet with him by calling the town offices at 962-4419.
Appointments are available until grievance day, May 28. If you're still not happy with the assessment after talking to him, the next step is to file a grievance. Grievance forms are available from the assessor or online, and must be filed before May 28. Notices of the times of the grievance hearings are published in the local papers (I'll post them here, too).
The Champlain Valley Film Society returns to Westport this weekend with its spring series, which will be shown at the Depot Theatre. All shows start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $5 adults, $2 under 18. First up on Saturday, April 18, is "Milk," the much-praised account of the murder of gay rights activist Harvey Milk, portrayed by Sean Penn, who won an Oscar for the role. "Milk" also won an Oscar for best screenplay. Future offerings will "Frost\Nixon" (May 2), "Happy-Go-Lucky" (May 16), and "Annie Hall" (May 30).
And at 7:30 on Wednesday, May 22, the Wadhams Free Library presents "Walking the Champlain Valley," an illustrated talk by our neighbors Sheri Amsel, John Davis, and Chris Maron about their Champlain Area Trails (CATs) group, which has been creating a growing network of regional hiking/ski trails. Come learn about the trails already available and those that are planned, as well as how you can join in.