Budget Line Item—$42,000

George Sansoucy has come up for three council meetings in a row now, and with each mention the cost to the city looks like its climbing higher. Tonight it was about negotiating a payment in lieu of taxes with Laidlaw and Clean Power Development; last time it was because his assessing contract cost had gone up. The state offers the same service for free, but unfortunately it results in lower tax revenues. But now it’s starting to look like the cost of collecting the taxes is going to have a significant impact on the budget.

Originally the budget line item for utility assessment was $16,000. Now it looks like it will be $42,000. The previous year was $16,000, but that number doesn’t reflect the true cost of his services.

Over the last three years the city paid Mr. Sansoucy $186,145, according to the city manager’s office. And none of those years was a full revaluation year, which the city manager said was in the range of $100,000. That $186,145 is $95,000 for FY2008, $41,255 for FY2009, and $49,890 for FY2010. It includes the cost of Mr. Sansoucy defending his numbers in court, I was told today, so it is more than just the utility assessment. In FY2009, according to this year’s proposed budget, the actual expenditure for utility assessment was zero.

I’m looking further into what this service costs the city, going back to the last full utility revaluation. It’s one of those stories that require a little more digging, but hopefully in the end they bear a bit more fruit. Sometimes these are the most fun.

4 thoughts on “Budget Line Item—$42,000

  1. In the past Sansoucy’s track record has demonstrated that the city’s willingness to pay him has resulted in tax revenue significantly above the cost of his professional services. In the future its important to realize that the state did not have its own assessing division that the board of land and tax appeals may be weighing heavily upon. If the state begins to overrule Sansoucy’s assessments which are historically coming in significantly higher than the state’s assessments it could stand to bankrupt a city counting on 25% of its revenue from these utilities.

  2. We can’t look at what Mr Sansoucy’s cost in the narrow definition of an expense, it might very well be a good investment if his work results in a more equitable tax collection from the utilities. What has troubled me about Mr Sansoucy lately has been his views about district heating. I remember not long ago when he was a strong advocate of district heating and for the past few months he’s knocked the concept at every occasion. With what appears to be biomass plants in our future, district heating not only makes sense financially, it improves the efficiency of the plant significantly. I would like to hear why Mr Sansoucy has changed his position on the issue.

  3. Norman,

    District heating in Berlin is a pipe dream. Can you imagine the cost to run 42 miles of new pipe all around Berlin? And then you need to pay the cost to hook up every home? As they say in NYC, “forgetaboutit”.

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