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Assessor quitting June 30, unhappy with town charter

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GROTON — In an unexpected development, long-time Board of Assessors member Hugh McLaughlin tendered his resignation, with June 30 scheduled as his final day on the job.

The news was given at the June 23 meeting of the Board of Selectmen, following a briefing by McLaughlin of some of the BOA’s concerns and his introduction of new member Garrett Boles.

Although McLaughlin did not go into specifics with selectmen as to the reasons for his resignation, it was known that he had expressed unhappiness in the past with some parts of the town’s new charter, which was finally approved by residents in the spring.

In particular, McLaughlin questioned the manner in which the charter was fashioned and how the authority of a town manager would relate to an independently elected Board of Assessors.

“I felt that the treatment of the assessors, by the Blue Ribbon Form of Governance Committee and the charter that followed, were unacceptable and unworthy of my support,” McLaughlin explained in a later interview. “The general treatment of the office of assessor was exceptionally heavy-handed, especially at the hands of the Finance Committee.”

The changes to the town’s government structure made his job as a member of the BOA difficult if not impossible, McLaughlin said.

“I find it impossible to achieve the requirements of the office of assessor or to deliver my obligations to the taxpayers and the Department of Revenue,” he said.

McLaughlin, a resident of Hill Road, has served on the Board of Assessors for eight years, with almost a full year remaining in his current term of office.

In notifying selectmen of his resignation, McLaughlin urged that the board move quickly to appoint his replacement.

“I would recommend making that appointment in short order, preferably before the end of the summer, since any appointed member will need to address the requirements of the Department of Revenue with respect to mandatory training before the DOR will accept that board member’s signature on any DOR submittals,” McLaughlin stated in his letter of resignation.

In the letter, McLaughlin also said he would remain available for discussion about the status of the Board of Assessors until June 30, after which he would “refrain” from any further talk.

With McLaughlin’s departure, only two members remain on the Board of Assessors out of three: Rena Swezey and Boles.

Boles replaced former member Sylvia Sangiolo, who chose not to run for another term in the spring elections.

Once someone has been appointed to replace McLaughlin by the Board of Selectmen, that person will serve until election day next spring, when they will be required to win the position in their own right.

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