Riverhead Town Assessor

Posted: 10/28/2017 12:10:00 -04:00 Updated:

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Susan D. Ambro - D, IN, WF

Background
Ambro, 58, of Wading River, is running on the Democratic, Independence and Working Families party lines. She received a bachelor’s degree in political science from SUNY Fredonia, and a law degree from Quinnipiac University. For 31 years, she has worked as a criminal defense attorney in the Riverhead office of the Legal Aid Society, which provides representation to indigent clients. There, she has represented children in Family Court and addicts in drug diversion programs. She represents hundreds of clients every year, she estimated. Ambro is active in local Democratic politics, having served as a Suffolk County Democratic committeewoman since 2012, and a Town of Huntington Democratic committeewoman from 1988 to 1992. She is married and has one child.

Issues
Ambro would like to further standardize the metrics according to which the town assesses property values, as she believes current assessment practices are inequitable and unfair. “They arbitrarily and capriciously will increase someone’s taxes with no basis for doing so,” she said. Ambro said that properties in some Riverhead hamlets are assessed differently than in others, and that she was motivated to run for the position after the town increased the assessed value of her own home — in her opinion, inappropriately. Additionally, Ambro would like the tax assessor’s office to have more of a say in commercial property tax abatements granted in the town. Too many local commercial properties receive such abatements, and they last for too long, she said.

Laverne Tennenberg - C, R

Background
Tennenberg, 59, is running on the Republican and Conservative party lines. She received a bachelor of business administration degree from Hofstra University, and worked in fashion design before first being elected town assessor in 1989. She became chairwoman of the Town of Riverhead Board of Assessors in 1997. Tennenberg is past president of the Suffolk County Assessors’ Association and has been treasurer of the New York State Assessors’ Association since 1998. She is married.

Issues
Tennenberg said she would like to make more aspects of Riverhead town property records available online for the public to access if funding is available. “We could have a wonderful website that would show everything about your property at one push of a button,” she said. She stressed the importance of ensuring that property taxpayers are eligible for the exemptions they receive. “Every exemption given improperly means that somebody else has to pick up the balance,” she said. As evidence of her qualifications, Tennenberg cited instances in which she personally uncovered that some property owners were undertaxed. She said she also successfully petitioned New York State to pay property taxes to local schools on state-owned land in Riverhead, a change that has brought more than $1 million in additional annual tax revenue to those schools. “I’m finishing up my seventh term, and with time comes knowledge, institutional knowledge,” she said. “We’ll continue to investigate new ways to save property taxpayers money.”

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