Boards Explore Other Options for Tax Bills

The Rochester Board of Selectmen met Monday evening and among several issues discussed was the issue of how the town will collect tax bills in the future.

The Selectmen and members of the Board of Assessors discussed potential changes in the way tax bills are collected. As of now, tax bills usually go out 30 days prior to when they are due and are collected semiannually.

The Selectmen discussed the potential option of switching to quarterly payments, as well as the option of going to semiannual preliminary bills, wherein bills would be sent out April 1 for an October 1 due date, and on October 1 for an April 1 due date.

Issuing a preliminary tax bill could potentially help taxpayers plan for their bills because it would allow more time to plan for their payments. According to John Mello, Chairman of the Board of Assessors, seven Massachusetts municipalities issue semiannual preliminary tax bills, 70 use the semiannual option that Rochester currently uses, and all of the remaining others collect quarterly.

“We think it’s a good idea to make a change, but how it needs to be done needs to be researched thoroughly,” Mello said.

The boards decided to meet at a later date to get any questions that the Board of Assessors has answered, with the issue to be decided on April 8 at the next Board of Selectmen meeting.

In other news, Town Administrator Richard LaCamera stressed to town residents that the town is not responsible for disposing of broken trees and limbs from the recent snowstorm. He noted that burning the debris and bringing it to the Mattapoisett landfill are two options that residents should explore.

Selectmen Richard Nunes spoke and said that he received a package of reports and invoices from the Old Rochester Regional School District on the repairs at Rochester Memorial School that were recently done. He had spoken at past meetings about several complaints from people regarding repairs that needed to be done there.

“There were a lot of repairs and a lot of things being done, but some stand out,” Nunes said.

Nunes said that the controller on one of the two water pumps at Rochester Memorial School had broken in September but was not repaired until January 2. He also noted several other issues that had taken months to repair.

“The school was running on one water pump from September to January,” Nunes said. “The defective part of fire pump took several months to be fixed. I don’t know why it took so long. These aren’t items that are minor. We’re not talking about the soap dispenser in the boy’s room. We’re talking about something to put out a fire. Some people are going to think that we’re being kind of picky, but I want to go back to the fact that the town spent $25 million on renovations. We have a duty to the taxpayers to make sure that these issues are promptly addressed.”

He suggested a possible future meeting with Superintendent Doug White and Gene Jones, the Facilities Manager.

The next Board of Selectmen meeting will take place April 8.

By Nick Walecka

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