Marion assessors candidates face questions about 'transparency'

May 4, 2018

Board of Assessors candidates Ray Pickles and George “TJ” Walker got the chance to speak about "transparency" within the board at Thursday's Candidates Night.

Both candidates are seeking a single seat on Marion's Board of Assessors.

Pickles, the former town administrator and longtime Town Clerk, has been on the Board of Assessors since 2005.

“I’ve enjoyed the job as assessor,” Pickles said. “I believe the assessor’s office is run very smoothly. We have little controversy.”

Walker previously served one term on the Board of Assessors and three terms on the Planning Board.

“The assessors job is to make sure individual taxpayers are paying his or her fair share and no more,” Walker said. “You have to be open, transparent and willing to engage people. That’s not a new job for me.”

One resident asked about the minutes from the weekly assessors meeting and if they are ever published.

“No,” Pickles said. “I don’t see why the town should publish the minutes from the assessors meetings.”

“Even though your see yourself as working for the public?” the resident asked.

Pickles clarified that the minutes were available for anyone to come in and see at the office. Walker, however, thought the documents should be readily available.

“I think all of these records should be submitted to the Town Clerk’s office,” Walker said.

Resident Peter Douglas then asked why the Board of Assessors wouldn’t post its minutes to the website like the other town boards and committees. Pickles then contradicted himself, and said that the minutes are published to the website.

“But previously you said they were kept in the office and not published,” Douglas said. “Which is it?”

Pickles said that they are in fact published on the website, and Walker added that things should be published as soon as possible.

“For transparency, we should have everything on the website as quickly as possible,” he said.

Marion's Town Election will be held on May 18. Polls run from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. at the Benjamin Cushing Community Center.