FARMINGTON — Selectmen unanimously voted Tuesday night to contract for tax assessment services after the in-house assessor retires at the end of the year.

After the vote, Chairman Ryan Morgan said that the next step will be to review the four companies that sent proposals detailing their services and decide who to contract with.

Town officials have been considering for the past several months whether to seek an outside contractor for property tax assessment now performed by outgoing assessor Mark Caldwell, weighing whether they could save money but might also lose services.

The town spends $126,604 for the assessing department, and according to the contractor proposals, the town could save $20,000 to $38,000 annually by using a third party for assessing, a subcommittee concluded. The town still will have office expenses and continue to pay a part-time assessor in the department along with a contractor. The town manager said previously that savings would be incurred mostly by not having to pay benefits for a full-time assessor.

Estimates for the cost of using different companies to perform assessing services under contract to the town ranged from $45,000 to $61,000.

The cheapest contract proposed doing the assessing work for about 1,000 fewer hours than an in-house assessor and for $38,000 less, said Dennis O’Neil, a resident who sat on the subcommittee.

“We’re saving money, but at a cost of time normally used to do the job,” O’Neil said.

Selectmen have debated over the last few months how to compare contracting services when each town has different demographics and uses its tax assessor for different sets of responsibilities. The subcommittee that reviewed proposals noted that most contractors worked with towns smaller than Farmington with less property to assess.

“Communities our size and larger aren’t doing this,” O’Neil said.

Selectman Michael Fogg, who sat on the subcommittee, said while change “makes people a little shaky,” he felt an outside party could serve effectively as assessor.

“I didn’t find anything that would scare me away from having a contracted assessor for the town,” Fogg said.

Selectman Josh Bell said he also felt confident the contractors could do the job, and he added that while the town does not have a guarantee that the contractor will be sufficient, they also do not have a guarantee that they could hire a suitable in-house assessor. He said as businesses, they have an incentive to do the job as proposed to avoid losing the town as a customer.

“I felt confident that they would be able to do the job,” he said.

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252

[email protected]

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