Teri L. Ross, IAO
President, New York State Assessors' Association
I admit that in preparing for this speech I pretty much googled every acceptance speech known to man – some of them quite lengthy - but you don’t need to worry this speech will not be long enough to be cut off by an orchestra for going over the allotted time.
I am deeply honored to become the 72nd president of the New York State Assessors’ Association. I’d like to thank the members who have placed their faith and trust in me. I do not take this responsibility lightly and I pledge to do my very best to represent this association with honor, integrity and transparency.
Many amazing assessors have held this position before me - so in my research - I also read the past president’s speeches from our website. Past President Randall Holcomb, who is here tonight, opened his speech by telling the audience his age….that won’t be happening tonight. Past President Dennis Ketcham started his off with a quote from the Gettysburg address…that won’t be happening tonight either. Past President Sue Otis – who has been one of my mentors – started with a call to action now that is something I can start with - on this dais sits a talented group of dedicated, hardworking members - this is your New York State Assessors’ Association Executive Board but we can not do the work of this association alone. Take a look around this room….these are your fellow members of this association. We need your support - we would really like your help. We ask you all to step up. OK - so you may not want to be an Executive Board member but it is important to you that issues pertaining to assessing are straightened out in Albany – why not step up and become a member of our Legislative Committee? Or you may not want to teach a week long class at Cornell but you are a real V4 expert – why not step up and volunteer to be a new assessor mentor? Or maybe you are passionate about Real Property Tax Law – why not step up and write an article for The Bulletin? After all our association’s motto is – we are only as good as our members.
I am pleased to report that the association has decided to step up and partner with the County Directors in an effort to make NYS accountable to the assessment community. The decline of ORPTS can clearly be traced back to the merger with Tax and Finance and that decline needs to stop NOW!
One of my goals this year - will be to ensure that the relationship between the County Directors and the Assessors continue to grow and flourish. The fact that we have similar goals and serve the same public makes our collaboration particularly significant. In most instances, we are on the same team.
There are so many people that I need to thank. First of all, to the greatest assessors’ staff in the entire state – Mark, Barb, Carlene, Jess and my right hand man Ted. Your loyalty, your competence, your eagerness to work as a team and your willingness to do anything asked of you is humbling and inspiring. This team makes it a pleasure to come to work every single day! I absolutely could not - and would not want to - do this job without you. Thank You!
The Town of Queensbury is an amazingly empowering place to work - largely in part to not only my fellow employees but to the extremely supportive administration. In fact, the current Supervisor John Strough is here tonight. Thank you!
It is VITAL that I give a big shout out to the Warren County Assessors’ Association for the tremendous effort to make this conference so special. Christian, Lori, Chris, Lauren & Ted have met weekly to put this together – from Ted’s suggestion to apply for Occupancy Tax funds enabling them to sponsor yesterday’s beautiful cruise on Lake George, to the mugs with the Lake etched on them, to the photo booth, the delicious bear claws, and much more……they have done an outstanding job. Thank you!
Thank you also to some of the mentors I have had along the way…..Dave Rosebrook, Mike Swan, Sue Otis, Peggy Jenkins and Denise Trudell! I would not be standing up here tonight without all of you.
At this time I’d also like to recognize my family here tonight….my husband of 35 years Darren…and they said it wouldn’t last, our daughter Sara and her husband Tom – here from San Diego – our daughter Beth and her husband Sean, my Mom and my Dad as well as my sister Tenee with her husband Jim, brother Todd with his fiancé Daniah and my cousin Sonja with her husband Jeff. Thank you for being here and for the unwavering love & support along the way!
I believe that most of the qualities that brought me here, I learned from my family. My maternal grandparents owned a resort on the Lake with housekeeping cottages, my paternal grandparents ran a diner and my aunt and uncle had a restaurant. So my siblings, cousin and I were taught public relations at a very early age. We learned to clean cabins, take reservations, deliver clean towels, bring coffee fast during the morning shift and ensure diners that yes, we were still serving the linguini with white clam sauce – all to keep our guests satisfied – to treat others with diplomacy, courtesy and respect no matter the circumstances. These traits are necessary in our assessment profession.
My Dad, who is a retired State Trooper, taught me how crucial it is to be honest - that it goes a long way when you admit your mistakes instead of blaming others (like my brothers). Honesty and transparency are important qualities that an assessor should possess.
And last but far from least I would like to recognize what my mother taught me. Mom – would you please join me up here?
This is my mom – Deanne Rehm – currently the assessor from Lake Luzerne but at one point was the assessor in Bolton Landing, Lake George and Lake Luzerne. She has had 50 Grievance Days – God Bless her! Once both our daughters were in school my mom decided that I should stop waitressing at the family restaurant – where I was making lots of money catering to demanding, hungry diners and convinced me to come be her clerk where I would make very little money catering to demanding, taxpayer whiners! Among the many things she taught me is professionalism and how to serve and advocate for property owners with diligence, patience and integrity. One of her favorite sayings is – never let them see you sweat! And – you know what – going to work for her was one of the best decisions I ever made. I am now doing something I love every day and thank God that He gave me the courage – along with a nudge from my Mom – to follow this path.
So, now it is with eternal gratitude and with the greatest pleasure and pride that I present Deanne Rehm with the NYSAA Robert Osias Professionalism Award – this award is given to an assessor that has served with diligence, integrity and a quiet professionalism that has won the praise of their peers, the municipalities in which they have served and reflects credit upon the entire profession.
Some excerpts from her nomination letters read:
Deanne is always the consummate professional in all aspects of the positions she has held, Deanne is a wealth of knowledge and has been a mentor to many assessors in our County, I can’t think of anyone that has more integrity than Deanne, Deanne has dedicated so many years to our profession that it goes without saying that she is deserving of this award, Deanne’s professionalism knows no bounds.
Congratulations Mom and thank you!
Now, I would like to close with a seemingly appropriate quote deemed from all of my research:
We are what we repeatedly do…Excellence then…..is not an act…….but a habit!