FARMINGTON — The Board of Selectmen unanimously agreed Tuesday to contract with a firm for assessing services when the current assessor retires at the end of the year.

The next step is for the town manager, town attorney and assessor Mark Caldwell to go over the three proposals under consideration and make a recommendation, Board of Selectmen Chairman Ryan Morgan said.

The decision to change from a hired employee to a contracted firm was based on information provided Tuesday by members of a committee who formed to consider which option was best for the town.

After meeting with three different contractors last week, the committee was divided on whether to contract with a service, Caldwell told the board.

“It’s going to be a test,” he said regarding the board voting to pursue a service. “It will be a big change for citizens.”

Caldwell has been employed as assessor by the town for 23 years. The current assessing cost is approximately $99,000 with about $12,000 for administration staff, other than Caldwell, within the assessing office.

The goal of looking at the change was to save money for the town, member Dennis O’Neil said. But he was not convinced the change would be more efficient, although the services considered perform work for other towns, some of comparable size to Farmington, but most are smaller, he said.

The three proposals considered were for $45,000, $60,000 and $61,800 per year under a three-year contract.

O’Neil figured the town could save about $38,000 but lose a thousand hours of assessment time per year, he said.

What the town will lose is accessibility to assessing services with the contracted services offering to provide either 120 days or 150 days a year in town. The third promised to do the work for a flat rate.

“I’m not convinced they can do the job in 50 percent less time,” he said.

O’Neil was also concerned about the ability to do inspections once every four years as the state recommends, and re-evaluations every 10 years or as market changes require.

The town would also have to consider the cost of a re-evaluation, Caldwell said. One firm estimated $250,000 for a re-evaluation. An estimated $25,000 a year needed from any savings. Caldwell, who constantly updates information on properties, was able to hire a consultant and complete the work over the past couple years for $30,000, he said.

Selectmen Josh Bell and Michael Fogg both served on the committee and met with the firms. Both expressed confidence that the contracted services could do the work.

They are familiar with the area and each makes their living from doing this work, Bell said. The quotes would be profitable for them.

Each is licensed and certified. They agreed they would follow state regulations and address all issues, including appeals, and meet and talk with residents, Fogg said.

Fogg said he called a couple different towns, now served by the contractors.

“I didn’t find anything that scared me away from a contractor doing it for the town,” he said.

The town is being left in good shape, Selectman Stephan Bunker said of the work done by Caldwell.

The board agreed to discuss and vote on which firm to contract with at their next meeting.

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