GROTON — Entering a three-way race for a single open seat on the Board of Assessors, long-time resident Garrett Boles hopes that experience will tell when voters go to the polls on Election Day.
“I decided to run because there was an open seat on the Board of Assessors and because I have a lot of experience in this area,” said Boles. “I know that the Board of Selectmen made a point when they considered making the position an appointed one and the difficulty there would be in finding someone qualified. But there was an open seat and I thought I’d offer my services to the town. I feel that I’m certainly qualified for the position so I wouldn’t have to learn the job. Also, I have a lot of municipal government experience.”
Boles, a resident of Britt Lane, enters the race against competitors Christopher Murphy and Robert Stephens for a seat on the Board of Assessors (BOA) that is to be vacated by departing member Sylvia Sangiolo.
With Sangiolo’s departure, a new three-year term will become available on the BOA.
“There’s been a lot of controversy since the last certification and I think we have to move on,” said Boles, referring to a flare-up of public sentiment over re-evaluations earlier in the year. “We have to do cyclical updates every year and I would advocate that when the town does its own annual update, that it pay close attention to any changes in the market.”
One of the most demanding duties of any municipal official and often one of the most thankless, being a member of the Board of Assessors was especially difficult earlier in the year when assessments suddenly skyrocketed for property owners with land located along the town’s lakefronts.
Although BOA members explained how the process worked and that doing anything else was beyond their control, a position later confirmed by the state’s Department of Revenue, the whole matter nevertheless left many residents dissatisfied. Thus, perhaps, the whole issue may have been less explosive if the re-evaluation had been handled with more sensitivity.
“I’ll bring expertise, knowledge and professionalism to the Board of Assessors and want to assure everyone that they will be treated fairly if I am a member,” Boles said. “I will advocate for complete transparency in the office and certainly insist on respect for residents. I would behave, and would expect the office in Groton to behave, in a way that I expect the people in North Andover to be treated, which is with the greatest respect.”
Boles is currently employed as the chief assessor for the town of North Andover and has been a member of North Andover’s Board of Assessors for nine years. Before arriving in North Andover, the candidate worked as an assistant assessor for the town of Brookline and before that as assistant assessor for the city of Cambridge.
To do that, Boles will come to the table with plenty of related experience, including two stints on the Finance Committee.
Schooled as an attorney, Boles has been designated as an assessment administration specialist by the International Association of Assessing Officers and is an accredited Massachusetts assessor.
“The property tax is probably the principal revenue source for the town, especially in this kind of community where local aid from the state does not make up that much of a percentage,” said Boles. “For that reason, what the assessors do for the town is very important.”
Determined to bring over 22 years of combined experience in the assessing field to Groton’s Board of Assessors, Boles said he would make it a top priority to prevent a situation where people would be taken by surprise, as they were when they opened their tax bills last January.
“I think that if you do interim year adjustments on property, you won’t have the kind of sticker shock we saw earlier in the year,” noted Boles.
Election Day is scheduled for May 20.