Anson’s property tax rate is lower than it’s been in years — a direct result of increased excise tax revenues following the resignation of Claudia Viles, the town’s former tax collector who was convicted of stealing more than $500,000 from 2010 through September 2014.

Excise tax is what’s paid on motor vehicle registrations and remains in the town in which it is collected, helping to fund the town’s highway department budget. In March, town officials reported that $411,000 in excise taxes were collected in 2015, an increase of $144,000 from the $267,000 collected in 2014.

The property tax rate, which was $20 per $1,000 of valuation for the last two years, has dropped to $18.90 because of the infusion of money into the highway budget, a 5 percent tax reduction.

Chairman of the Anson Board of Selectmen Arnold Luce said that in years past, the town had to raise taxes to fund the highway department.

Viles, who was responsible for collecting the town’s excise taxes, resigned in September 2015 after she was indicted by a Somerset County grand jury and the town’s insurance company refused to provide bonding for her.

When asked whether Viles’ departure as a town employee had an impact on the change in residents’ tax bills, Luce said, “It had an effect,” but declined to elaborate.


Luce said this week that he has “to be careful of what I say until after she’s sentenced.” Viles is scheduled to be sentenced in Somerset County Superior Court on Sept. 2.

In June, Viles was convicted of embezzling more than $500,000 in excise tax money from the town over five years. Witnesses at her trial testified that Viles manipulated adding machine tapes to hide her theft while her capacity as an elected official meant that there was little oversight in the way she did her job.

The town has already recovered $250,000 through an insurance policy covering employee theft, but it is also seeking restitution, which will be determined at the time of sentencing.

At a special town meeting in December, residents approved spending $40,000 of the recovered money on unanticipated legal and audit fees resulting from the investigation into the money stolen by Viles.

Town officials said at the time of the trial that another special town meeting will be held after restitution is determined to decide what will be done with the remainder of the insurance reimbursement.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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