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Wall will pursue discipline against tax assessor

Thursday, April 14, 2016   (0 Comments)
Share | 04/14/16

Township officials will move ahead with disciplinary action against Wall's municipal assessor after they say they got the runaround from two state agencies they asked to take action. Wall has been trying to get an ethics opinion from the Department of Community Affairs’ Local Finance Board about Tax Assessor William FitzPatrick’s relationship with Realty Appraisal, the firm hired to appraise all property in the township, said Sean Kean, Wall's attorney. The township also took the issue to the Department of Treasury, which oversees tax assessors. But Kean said Wall has been "ping-ponged" between the two agencies with neither offering an opinion. "Where we are here today is several months after the fact, I am still very concerned that Mr. FitzPatrick's job performance constituted a conflict of interest," said Kean, also an assemblyman, at Wednesday night's meeting.

FitzPatrick was in the room to hear the decision. Wall gave FitzPatrick a Rice Notice, legally required notification that the township would be discussing his job in closed session. FitzPatrick requested the discussion happen during the public portion of the meeting. He declined to comment after the meeting was complete. The only time he has made any comment was to say he did not think he had a conflict. Wall residents Wednesday night say they, too, are being stonewalled by local leaders about their knowledge of the business relationship between FitzPatrick and Realty Appraisal Company of West New York. “I want answers. I want someone to be honest with me. I want to know who knew what and when did they know it,” said Wall resident Barry Cooke, an attorney who offered to investigate the issue for free for the township.

Ted Lamicella will work for Wall for 60 days while the township completes tax appeal hearings. Lamicella is a certified tax assessor who works as an expert witness in tax appeal cases, Township Administrator Jeff Bertrand said. Lamicella also has ties to Appraisal Systems, Inc., a competitor of Realty Appraisal. The issues In Wall's assessor office stem from a photography company FitzPatrick started with fellow municipal assessor Scott Imbriaco and George Snedden, the father-in-law of Monmouth County Tax Administrator Matthew S. Clark. The now-defunct company, Value Added Systems, did most of their work for Realty Appraisal Company.

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