Letter: Barrington deserves better than this

Posted 1/7/20

To the editor:

Barrington deserves better than this. Last year, Mr. Minardi, our tax assessor, covertly concocted a crazy new rule increasing property valuations on a select few properties that …

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Letter: Barrington deserves better than this

Posted

To the editor:

Barrington deserves better than this. Last year, Mr. Minardi, our tax assessor, covertly concocted a crazy new rule increasing property valuations on a select few properties that all sold in 2018. Without notice, he raised the tax burden on these 300 new homeowners by up to 30 percent in one year leaving all the rest unaffected. This violated state law, which mandates “All properties should be assessed in a uniform manner, and properties of equal value should be assessed the same.” RI Gen L § 44-5-26(b). He ignored well-established professional standards, which condemn his rogue method as “sales chasing.” And, he has since summarily denied every single request for abatement by those he cheated.

Last week, one year after this debacle, he reversed himself. However, at the same time he decided that he will not fleece those who bought homes in 2019, he has refused to grant relief for those he cheated from 2018. This is like the horse thief who steels 300 horses. A year later, he decides not to steal anymore but refuses to return the horses he already stole. How can he get away with this?

Consider this. Before Mr. Minardi began, he told his boss, Mr. Cunha, our town manager, about his plans. And Mr. Cunha blindly went along. They both kept it secret even when they already knew they were on shaky legal grounds. Last week, Mr. Cunha finally admitted “legal review of the town's prior assessment policy did not clearly determine whether the approach was acceptable or not.” Barrington Times (Jan. 3, 2020).

After the public became aware of what Mr. Minardi had done, Mr. Cunha publicly defended Mr. Minardi. See “Manager Defends Tax Assessor”, Barrington Times (Aug. 14, 2019). He even backed Mr. Minardi when he refused to release even a single document in response to our request for public records. “Residents Take Fight to Attorney General,” Barrington Times (Oct. 9, 2019). One of those records that they have kept secret is that infamous “legal review” they now admit was inconclusive. What happens next is anyone’s guess.  

Will Mr. Cunha continue to blindly support his employee? Or will he now realize that he must deal with an unacceptable job performance issue by a rogue employee who perpetrated a monumental miscarriage of justice, something unheard of in any other town in the state? Will Mr. Cunha realize that Barrington deserves better than this? Mr. Minardi violated his position of public trust, and Mr. Cunha must do his job—determine that Mr. Minardi is unacceptable to continue as our tax assessor.

Charlie Payne

Barrington

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