BOS approves new tax rates, chooses town admin

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In an impactful meeting that lasted nearly three hours Tuesday night, the Canton Board of Selectmen approved a new tax rate for this year; agreed to make an offer to a new town administrator; and heard a plan by the fire chief to join a regional dispatch communications center out of Holbrook.

Selectmen approved the recommendation of the Board of Assessors to lower the residential tax rate from $12.82 per thousand dollar valuation to $12.79 per thousand.

However, due to an increase in property values, the actual residential tax bill will jump an average of $219. The commercial rate will remain the same at $26.36 per thousand. The new rates will be applied to the January bills, which go out at the end of December. The first two tax bills were estimated.

State Representative Bill Galvin, who also chairs the Canton Board of Assessors, said the average single family assessment is $491,389 — a 3.8 percent increase from last year.

Galvin said the average condo assessment is $247,338 — an 8.8 increase from last year — and the average condo tax bill will increase by $251.

He also noted that commercial and industrial assessments rose 4.1 percent over last year; new growth for the town exceeded $1.3 million; and the total taxable valuation is over $4.3 billion. Galvin said the town has grown in value by 25 times since 1970, when the total valuation stood at $170 million. The largest personal property taxpayer is Eversource, which pays $1.75 million in annual taxes, and the largest real estate taxpayer is Reebok, which pays $1.1 million.

Regarding the town administrator position, selectmen plan to offer a contract to current Mendon town administrator Kimberly Newman.

Newman, who has a sister living in Canton, was one of four finalists interviewed by selectmen Monday night, each for about an hour. The other candidates were Greg Enos, assistant town administrator of Whitman; Mark Rees, city manager for Portland, Maine; and Roy Witherow, assistant village manager for Lake Zurick, Illinois.

Selectman Victor Del Vecchio, who made the motion to appoint Newman, said she has broad experience in municipal government, financial management, human resources, economic development, and social media. Besides managing municipalities in Mendon, Connecticut, and Kansas, she has a BA from the University of Rhode Island and a master’s degree in public administration, also from URI.

“Her enthusiasm and engaging personality is a good fit for the staff and town of Canton,” said Del Vecchio.

In her interview Monday night, Newman said Canton has been on her radar for many years. “From a professional standpoint, Canton has the ideal location, size, services, and complexity of what I am looking for in a position long term,” she said.

Selectmen Chairman John Connolly asked each candidate to project where they would be three years from now. Newman replied, “Definitely here, hopefully 18 years if possible.” She said if offered the job that she would come in Fridays until her official appointment, as she currently has a four-day work week in Mendon.

When asked what issues she would like to address here, Newman pointed to “traffic congestion and school overcrowding.”

Selectmen will now negotiate a contract with Newman and will work with current Town Administrator Bill Friel until his retirement at the end of January. Friel has served the town for 26 years.

Selectman Mark Porter said all four candidates were well qualified for the position. He added that Newman has “a lot of potential to be great for the town.”

“If she is half as good as [Friel], it will be great,” Porter said.

In other news Tuesday night, selectmen appeared to favor Fire Chief Charlie Doody’s plan to join the regional dispatch center that is operated out of Holbrook. Doody and Police Chief Ken Berkowitz proposed an in-house communications center last year, but the plan was too expensive for the budget. Doody told selectmen that the state is urging communities to either join a regional dispatch center or fund its own dispatch center. Under Doody’s plan, the town would pay a $250,000 fee that would be funded by an increase in ambulance fees. Doody said the four men used daily for dispatch work would be used for apparatus manning and it would allow for additional supervisory lieutenants on all shifts …

See this week’s Canton Citizen for more highlights from the December 1 selectmen’s meeting. Not a subscriber? Click here to order your subscription today.

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