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Hovey's Assessment Went Up

After a neighbor complained that the state representative's basement was finished, but not reported, the assessor added a bedroom and a bathroom to the property's field card

What work State Rep. DebraLee Hovey (R-112) and her husband Paul Balsano did or didn't do to the basement of their ranch at 296 Fan Hill Road became a hotly contested campaign issue last November.

Assessor Elizabeth Duffy recently added a bedroom and a full bathroom to their assessment after a neighbor complained that Hovey's husband made improvements to their basement without reporting it and paying taxes on it.

The Oct. 31,2009 assessment said the ranch had two bedrooms and one full bath. The net assessment was $184,380. Now the field card says there are three bedrooms and two full baths. The total valuation is $309,000 and the net assessment is $216,300.

During the election, Hovey strongly denied that her basement was finished. Patch left her a message asking if she plans to appeal her new assessment, but the call was not returned by press time.

Hovey and Democratic party challenger, Town Councilwoman Michele Mount, were fighting hard down the stretch in last November's race when the Democratic Town Committee issued a press release on the basement dispute in the final week.

DTC Chairwoman Patricia Ulatowski led town Democrats in demanding that Hovey open her doors, and Hovey and her campaign officials denied her basement was finished, though she refused to allow an inspection.

The issue did not help Mount. Hovey easily won reelection, taking 62 percent of the vote.

The controversy was sparked when Patti Campbell, a neighbor of the legislator, had complained to the Building Department, contending that Balsano sectioned off the basement into three rooms and added a new bathroom without reporting it and paying taxes on the improvements.

Christine E. February 28, 2011 at 07:34 PM
Nan, I understand your anger. However, you cannot "prove" without an assessor going into the home that any of this speculation is true. Until an assessor has been allowed in, it's all heresay. As I said before, it is in Ms. Hovey's best interest from a popularity standpoint to simply allow an assessor in and put an end to all of the chit chat. BUT, she has the legal right to privacy, and she can say no. I, for one, am grateful to have that right myself and, if she decides to exercise her right, then so be it. There is nothing you can do about it. I think it's time to let it go.
Anna J February 28, 2011 at 07:54 PM
You're right, Christine, Ms. Hovey has no obligation to let an assessor into her home. But, as a public official who presumably cares about her reputation, wouldn't it make sense that if she TRULY had nothing to hide (as she, Mr. Sredzinski, Ms Edgerton repeatedly claimed) that she would have openly and willingly invited the assessor's office-- heck, even the press-- into her home to refute these claims back when they were initially made? The fact that she, A) adamantly denied these claims made by neighbors and Ms. Mount as "bogus" and "election season nonsense" during her campaign, B) proceded to put a toilet on her front yard upon re-election (effectively thumbing her nose at neighbors, constituents and the Town of Monroe), and then, C) now "mysteriously" has a new bedroom and bathroom appearing on her field card adds up to one thing: Ms Hovey is dishonorable and untrustworthy. Is this the type of individual we want representing our community? I happen to think her actions are sleazy and reprehensible.
Christine E. February 28, 2011 at 08:02 PM
Anna, like I said before...I agree that it is in her best interest to let an assessor in her home. And, as I also mentioned, if she doesn't appeal the new assessment, then that's your admission of guilt. My opinion is not based on whether I think she's guilty, I do think she is. I can't prove it, even if i'm angry, and it's her prerogative to exercise her right to privacy if she wants to. Even if it makes her look bad.
Tanga February 28, 2011 at 08:19 PM
I think the reporter really needs to do a follow-up interview with the assessor's office: If the assessor believes work has been done and has updated the field card accordingly, has Ms. Hovey been invoiced for money owed as a result of these improvements? If not, then why? What happens to ordinary citizens when this occurs---are they required to pay anything?
Christine E. February 28, 2011 at 09:14 PM
Good question, Tanga. I wish I knew more about the process, but I simply don't. It would be great if Bill Bittar could find out more. I would also like to know if she plans on appealing the assessment.

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