Sandown Continues with MRI as Town Assessor

SANDOWN – The board of selectmen has decided to sign a five-year contract with current assessor Municipal Resources Incorporated (MRI). MRI has served as the town assessor since 2008.
The board, noting a desire to make sure it would be getting the best deal for the town’s money, sent out a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the service earlier in the year. Two companies responded, MRI, based out of Meredith, and Cross Country Appraisal Group of Concord.

Board members initially wanted to meet with both companies following the bid process because Cross Country’s bid was $20,000 lower than MRI. Some suspected that the bids weren’t including all the same services.
While MRI was the high bidder, the board said it was most comfortable with remaining with the current contractor.
Chair Tom Tombarello and town administrator Lynne Blaisdell met with both companies last week, and Tombarello explained his reasoning for staying with the known commodity. He said that MRI has been responsive to the town’s needs, and, he said, with the second company geographically further away, he was skeptical it could do the same. He noted the second company’s desire to access the town’s databases and surmised that it would try to do most of the work remotely. MRI currently has an employee in town once a week.
Selectman Hans Nicolaisen noted that he was very comfortable with trusting MRI to do the job right. “We need that kind of working relationship,” said Nicolaisen.
The board unanimously approved the contract at its meeting Monday night, Dec. 9. The cost is $5,000 per month for the first year, with the remaining four years tied to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The first year represents a $10,000 savings, as the current annual cost is about $70,000.
In other business:
• New window shades were approved for the upper town hall at a cost not to exceed $3,600. While Tombarello conceded that with the current tax rate increase, everyone was leery of spending any money, the current window treatments in the hall were dilapidated. Currently the windows are covered with pull-down shades repaired multiple times with duct tape.
Nicolaisen said that while no one wanted to spend money unnecessarily, if the little things weren’t kept up with, larger expenditures were soon to follow.
• The board approved the Election and Registration Account at $10,750 with no revenue. The budget season has just about wound down, but selectmen are scheduled to discuss potential warrant articles at their next meeting on Monday, Dec. 16.
• Mark Traeger was appointed to another three-year term with the conservation commission.

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