One of the major tasks for Cayuga County elected officials in 2018 will be working together to form a shared services plan to submit to the state.

With that job ahead, this year's campaign season included some discussion about what government services the candidates viewed as viable consolidation options.

When this editorial board put the question to candidates for Cayuga County Legislature candidates, a common suggestion was to look at the real property assessment system in place here and in most New York state counties.

We hope that's a sign of a move toward countywide real property assessment, a concept that makes total sense if you understand how convoluted, costly and, ultimately, unfair the current system is.

Assessments, which are professional determinations of the value of property and are used to calculate tax bills, are currently done by assessors who are paid by each town or city to review real estate within the municipal borders.

But because the assessors have varied methods for doing this work, and because towns complete valuation reviews at varying frequencies, the assessments are far from uniform with Cayuga County and within school districts. New York state establishes equalization rates to try to adjust for these differences when calculating county and school tax bills, but that system has limited effectiveness.

The best way to arrive at property assessments that are fair across the entire county is to have them done by assessors using the same techniques and training, all under the auspices of a county department.

Cayuga County studied assessment consolidation almost a decade ago, but it was clear then that there wasn't enough political will to abolish the broken but familiar system in place.

Maybe we're finally past that parochial resistance.

We urge the county legislators who have said that they see the benefit in a countywide system to make that a top priority in next year's shared services plan discussions.

The Citizen Editorial Board includes publisher Rob Forcey, managing editor Mike Dowd and executive editor Jeremy Boyer.

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