BEDFORD - After being accused publicly last week of handing out misinformation, Bedford County Register of Wills/Recorder of Deeds Faith Zembower told Commissioner Gary Ebersole on Tuesday that her office doesn't give out misinformation.
Commissioners Ebersole and Steve Howsare refused last week to pass a motion made by Chairman Michael Herline to allow tax information to be available at the recorder's and prothonotary's offices.
At that meeting, Ebersole said he had been told of instances where Zembower and her staff handed out incorrect information to residents. That information will now only be available at the tax assessment office.
"I am sorry I helped the residents of Bedford County," Zembower said of her assistance in last year's reassessment and appeals. "That's what we do: We help each other out. I will continue to help people."
Taking the tax information out of her office was "punishment" for "knowing just a little bit too much," Zembower said at Tuesday's commissioners meeting.
"What are you trying to hide?" she asked the commissioners.
Having the information only available in the tax assessment office allowed those with questions to ask them to trained assessors, Ebersole said.
"All I want to do is have people ask the questions," he said.
Zembower then discussed last year's across-the-board value-setting by Ebersole and Herline after the reassessment values had already been set, making the first acre of a building site worth $12,500 across the county.
Zembower said her Bedford Township property and many other township and borough properties were appraised at much higher than that. Zembower's property was valued at slightly more than $59,000.
"I'm either really confused or misinformed, aren't I?" Zembower asked Ebersole.
"They should all be $12,500 as far as I know," Ebersole said.
Zembower slid property record cards across the table then toward Ebersole to prove him wrong, but he would not look at the papers.
"It is $12,500, no question about it," he said.
Herline said he was told by Chief Assessor Melissa Border that all building sites should have a first acre value of $12,500 and that corrections were being made, and refunds could be available for property owners who had overpaid.
"She assured me that that is going to be changed," Herline said.
Zembower, the county's former chief assessor, said the accusations should have been made to her and in private before addressing them at a public meeting.
"If you have a problem, come to me," she said. "There was no misinformation."
Mirror Staff Writer Wendy Zook is at 946-7520.