Veazie council looks to fill spots vacated by longtime assessor

Posted July 06, 2011, at 11:01 p.m.

VEAZIE, Maine – A power outage plunged much of Veazie into darkness, including the Town Hall, during a council meeting Wednesday night. When the generator kicked on, councilors unanimously approved a move to hire one of two out-of-town officials to take over code enforcement officer duties and a Veazie employee to assist them.

The town is looking at a Milford code enforcement officer and a former Old Town officer to fill the interim spot, according to Town Manager William Reed.

The council also voted to name Veazie Public Works director Brian Stoyell assistant code enforcement officer.

Longtime town tax assessor and code enforcement officer Allan Thomas quit on June 19, the day after councilors decided not to reappoint him.

Thomas since has hired an attorney, Thomas Hamer of Rudman Winchell. Hamer sent a letter on June 28 to Veazie’s town attorney Thomas Russell requesting “a copy of all documents that fall within the definition of a ‘personnel file’ pertaining to Mr. Thomas,” including any emails, letters or documents in possession of any town official.

Officials mailed these documents on Friday, Reed said.

Councilors called a one-hour executive session to discuss the risk of future litigation with the town attorney and an insurance risk consultant. Reed said the discussion involved the letter from Hamer and Thomas.

To open the meeting, Don Jutton and Joe Lessard of Municipal Resources Inc., a consulting firm based in Meredith, N.H., said Veazie shouldn’t hire them to do the town’s tax assessment. The town had asked them to look at the books, determine how to lay the groundwork for tax billing, and perhaps perform the assessment.

“I don’t think that we’re the wisest use of your money,” Jutton said. “We’re more expensive than you need to pay.”

The town could save at least $350 a day by hiring an assessor closer to home, he said. Municipal Resources charges $750 per day.

Jutton and Lessard offered to help the councilors work out a contract with the assessor.

They also said they reviewed records of Veazie’s past assessments under Thomas’ tenure.

“The good news is that it appears your values were in line,” Jutton said.

However, some building and property descriptions were incomplete or missing altogether in the system used to calculate assessments, Lessard said, meaning the system shouldn’t have come up with the correct numbers.

The consultants were perplexed as to how Thomas’ numbers were so accurate without entering appropriate descriptions.

“However he arrived at them, it appears that the quality of assessments are decent,” he said.

Jutton said he also found that it had been nearly 30 years since the town’s last revaluation, which was “an awfully long time.”

He said the person who took the job would need to update the system for determining assessments — and use it correctly.

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