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Chief Assessor’s Private Business is Not a Conflict

And 3 other things you missed from this week's Selectmen’s meeting.

Framingham Town Counsel ruled Dan Dargon’s personal business, as a private property appraiser near his hometown of Belmont, does not violate Framingham’s ethics policies or the state’s conflict of interest law.

Interim Town Manager Valerie Mulvey informed Selectmen of the legal decision at its weekly meeting Tuesday night.

Some Framingham community members had questioned the appearance of conflict of interest, especially when Dargon’s private work involved a commercial property or entity that may have ties with Framingham.

Residents also questioned whether Dargon brought his private work into Framingham and conducted his private business while working for the town.

“I personally interviewed all the employees in the assessor’s office and every one of them said they have never seen or heard of any work being done other than that for the town of Framingham,” said Mulvey.

The new, higher residential propery assessments increased the tax burden on homewoners but in many cases the assessments on commercial properties decreased on average by 6%.

#2)  Selectmen approved a Finance Committee recommendation to secure an independent consultant to review the town’s assessment procedures. The action was taken to stem public criticism that assessment numbers are not what they should be.

#3) Community Development Coordinator Ted Fields presented a draft of the proposed fiscal year 2013 budgets for the Community Development Block Grant and HOME programs. Both budgets show a decrease from fiscal year 2012, which ends on June 30.

“The mission of these Federal grants is to assist Framingham’s most neediest residents,” said Fields. “We are looking at an 11% cut in the CDBG program and a 40 percent cut in HOME. Despite the cuts, the town will continue to fund community development programs.”

Fields' figures showed the Community Development Block Grant will receive $434,317 in fiscal year 2013, a decrease of $49,251. The HOME allocation came in at $239,322, a decrease of $136,929 from the 2012.

The town’s Community Development Committee reviewed requests for $900,000 from organizations in town and allocated money where it could. The largest chunk of money will go to rehabilitating housing and homeowner assistance programs with $173,525 in block grant funds earmarked for those purposes and $70,000 to come from HOME funding.

Selectmen approved the recommended Community Development Block Grant budget and will sponsor a Town Meeting article to receive approval. The HOME budget was also approved by Selectmen, but no Town Meeting action is needed.

#4) Gene Kennedy, assistant director of community and economic development, gave an update on open space and trails initiatives in Framingham. Selectmen voted to support a pilot trail program along the Weston aqueduct that bisects the northern part of town in the Saxonville and Nobscot neighborhoods.

Kennedy reported that is working with the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority to make the Weston aqueduct trail accessible to residents.

According to a timeline in Kennedy’s report, public meetings on the Weston Aqueduct project should be scheduled in April and May, with a  final permit possibly approved in June by the MWRA.

Dan Wiener February 16, 2012 at 11:05 AM
Appraisers now have to adhere to FNMA APPRAISAL GUIDELINES by law. The only conflict would be if he DIDN'T use these guidelines in appraising Real Estate Values for the Assessor's Office. Has anyone asked if these guidelines caused the property values to increase, as a result of using them? And maybe he got it right? OK folks, go ahead, beat me up... http://www.northernbayappraisal.com/PDF/fnma.pdf

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