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New Assessor Looking to Begin on Right Foot

BEDFORD HILLS, N.Y. — With the start of the New Year, those who wish to re-assess their home or property or want to understand their taxes better will turn to one man: Harold Girdlestone.

Girdlestone, who is beginning his first year as Bedford’s assessor, spent the last four years just a few towns over in Yorktown as its assessor. Yorktown’s size has prepared him for what is to come, as Bedford’s population is nearly half the size.

“I know that during certain times, we had about 10,000 STAR filings. Sometimes you can’t spend as much time as you’d like to and making sure they get everything they’re entitled to,” he said. “I don’t expect that here. I think this is a good fit.”

Girdlestone’s 16 previous years were spent at the state level in the New York State Office of Real Property Tax Services. His long tenure at the numbers desk, along with his recent move to the municipal level, allowed him to understand the values necessary to succeed.

“Basically, we’re service oriented. We’re here to serve the public - people looking for deeds, other property assessments and exemptions,” he said. “We’re here for them and we're here to serve them with an open door.”

Thomas Polzella, who was the Bedford assessor for 20 years, is on board with Girdlestone’s manner, as he led the way for two decades in the same fashion.

“I’ve always run the office that way and I know Harry will be the same. He’s going to be really good here,” Polzella said. “He has the right attitude and temperament for the job.”

Girdlestone will be finishing out Polzella’s six-year term with just a two-year stint and then file for re-election if he chooses. But at the outset, Girdlestone believes Bedford is a location he can get excited about for a long time.

"It’s a nice community and, in a lot of ways, this is a very diverse community. The range in types of property is very large and that keeps the job interesting,” he said. “From very modest homes to very high end homes, commercial buildings, big commercial boxes in town. The diverse range in types of property and value rangers is one of the largest in the county.”

He knows he has his work cut out for him, which also includes his goal of making the office more accessible online. But Girdlestone said he is well prepared, which makes him confident he will succeed.

“I’m ready for the challenge," he said.

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