Letter: Assessor question exposes town council

Posted 8/31/19

To the editor:

Between Nov. 2013, and Jan. 2014, the Barrington Town Council debated whether to go to court to determine if town assessor Michael Minardi's 65 percent tax break for affordable …

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Letter: Assessor question exposes town council

Posted

To the editor:

Between Nov. 2013, and Jan. 2014, the Barrington Town Council debated whether to go to court to determine if town assessor Michael Minardi's 65 percent tax break for affordable housing developers was legal. A Superior Court ruling in 2013 held that such tax breaks as granted by Assessor Minardi were, in fact, illegal. 

The town solicitor argued that in order for the council to settle the matter in court, they would have to name Assessor Minardi as a defendant. The idea that the town council would have to name another town official as a defendant was too much for the timid Democrat majority, and the matter was tabled (the two Republican council members voted in favor of going to court).

Since the council's tabling of the matter, the for-profit developers of the Sweetbriar project have taken in nearly $500,000 in questionable property tax subsidies paid by local residents, and the Palmer Pointe development now stands ready to get their share.

The town council is again faced with a questionable assessor policy whereby a home will now be taxed on its own recent sales price. 

The overall Rhode Island assessor community disagrees with such policy.  But rather than the town council taking reasonable action to get a straight answer, one council member took the absurd action to ask Mr. Minardi if the practice was legal (guess what the answer was) and then penned a letter to the Times saying he was satisfied with the assessor's opinion.

As in 2014, the town council has good cause to question how our assessor's office is being managed. Will they do what is needed to protect resident interests. Given the inept review by one council member, it doesn't seem likely.

Gary Morse

Barrington

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