PARIS – Following a selectmen’s meeting packed with residents concerned about rising taxes, town assessor Kevin McGillicuddy tendered his resignation to the Board of Selectmen on Monday.

An item to accept McGillicuddy’s resignation was added to the meeting’s agenda after the board and town manager entered into an executive session. Town Manager Sharon Jackson said discussions that take place during executive session are confidential, but said that McGillicuddy’s resignation was voluntary.

McGillicuddy was hired in 2003 to do a complete revaluation of the town for $39,000 a year. Selectmen reappointed him last June to serve from Aug. 1 of this year to Jan. 31, 2008.

“Right now, we’re just looking to bring in an interim to get things caught up to where they need to be and assist the citizens,” Jackson said.

Jackson hoped to have an interim assessor in place within days, but said hiring a full-time assessor could take up to two months. She said the position would be advertised and that the selectmen would approve a candidate.

McGillicuddy gave a presentation at the meeting on a recent revaluation that increased the value of the town by almost $83 million, or about one-third of its previous value. Jackson said at a meeting at the end of August that the revaluation would lead to both increases and decreases of taxes, depending on sales of property.

McGillicuddy said that by state assessment standards established in 1975, the ratio between the assessed values and sales values of the properties of a town must fall between 70 and 100 percent. He said if the ratio falls between 90 and 100 percent, the town can certify at 100 percent.

“Everyone here who has a Homestead Exemption or a veteran’s exemption or a blind exemption will get 100 percent of that exemption,” McGillicuddy said.

He said the state adjusts all funding to the town, with the exception of school funding, by the sales ratio. If the ratio fell below the ideal level, McGillicuddy said, he would have to certify at a lower level, thus losing property owners a certain percentage of exemptions and the town a certain exemption of state funding.

McGillicuddy said that the sales ratio had fallen to 72 percent. He said a certification at that point would lead to a loss of $2,730 from every Homestead Exemption, $1,050 from every veteran’s exemption, and $840 from every blind exemption.

“If the town doesn’t receive that income that goes to offset that net they need to raise, your taxes are going to go up, too,” he said.

McGillicuddy also presented the ratios of several properties in town, saying the assessor’s goal was “to get as accurate as you can so everyone is painted with the same brush in that neighborhood.”

Prior to the meeting, chairman Ernest Fitts III read a letter to the Advertiser Democrat from former chairwoman Barbara Payne, in which she criticized the 4-1 vote of the selectmen to hire McGillicuddy to another six-month term in June.

Fitts said that the letter unfairly characterized the board as inactive, and questioned whether any alternative to re-hiring McGillicuddy had existed with a due date for the taxes approaching.

Selectman Gerald Kilgore questioned the fairness of assessing a property at a higher value due to a neighboring property selling for a high price.

“We are charged with fair and equitable,” replied McGillicuddy. “We have to repute all the neighborhood sales.”

When asked by Fitts whether there could have been any other action taken, McGillicuddy said he would have had to certify at a lower rate, losing money for exemptions and state revenue.

Jackson said about 20 people questioned McGillicuddy on the revaluation, which has led some residents to experience higher taxes. McGillicuddy said at the beginning of the presentation that he could not answer individual property questions, but invited residents to visit him on a one-on-one basis.

The meeting was moved from the fire station to the town office, which has a capacity of 50, due to a water main break near the station. Jackson said people were being turned away at the door, and that another hearing on the issue would be set up later in the month.

In other action, the selectmen approved the acceptance of 24 American flags from the Cole Foundation and $995 in donations for an additional 26 flags. Fitts had suggested at a prior meeting that the town put up flags on utility poles, and the measure was approved at Monday’s meeting.

Selectmen also accepted two granite benches from the Cole Foundation and donated them to the American Legion. The benches will sit facing the monument in Moore Park.

A bid for repairs to four roads damaged by rainstorms in April was awarded to Pine Tree Paving for $64,274. The repairs will take place on Nichol Street, Brett Hill Road, King Street, and Hall’s Pond Road, and the project will utilize funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Prior to the meeting, a hearing was held on the Planning Board, Appeals Board and addressing ordinances. Voters will decide whether to approve the ordinances at a special town meeting, which will take place at 7 p.m. on Sept. 24 at the fire station.


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