Recently elected Assessor TJ Walker has made good on his campaign promise to require background checks on any data collectors who visit Marion residents’ homes on behalf of the Board of Assessors during three-year revaluations of property values.
On June 27, the Marion Board of Assessors invited Police Chief John Garcia to its meeting to discuss mandatory CORI (name-based court arraignment records check), SORI (sex offender registry information), and criminal background checks for so-called “data collectors”, whether they come into your house, or visit your property just to review the exterior.
“The thought was, if we as a board felt that it was important, anybody who was doing business visiting townspeople’s homes would go through a CORI or a background check,” said Walker.
Garcia pointed to the Town’s bylaw pertaining to solicitors that requires the personal information of door-to-door vendors be submitted to the police, vetted for felony charges, and be licensed at the local level for their activities. But, according to Garcia, this bylaw doesn’t cover this scenario because the ones assessing the properties aren’t quite solicitors.
“They’re not soliciting,” Garcia said. “Certainly, if they’re representing the Town – if they’re going into the homes, we should at least know what their background check is … just so that we know who’s going out … and avoid potential problems.”
According to Assessor Linda Dessert, Vision Government Solutions, the company the board uses for property appraisal, does not send its own employees into residents’ homes, rather it subcontracts the work.
“And they do have a background check with Vision,” said Dessert. “Each person they hire by Vision fills out a background check at that time.”
Garcia told the assessors, “If they’re providing a statement guaranteeing that each of the people has gone through a background check, you can accept that,” said Garcia.
If that is not enough, though, Garcia continued, the board could ask the town administrator to run a check. “I don’t think it would be unreasonable to request a list … and a simple background check,” said Garcia. “You’re still sending people around the various neighborhoods and they get to see things – who’s home, who’s not, who’s leaving their garage open.”
Garcia said the subcontracted consultants would submit their information and the town administrator would only need about five minutes to fill out the forms. Results would return within 24 hours.
“This is a policy just moving forward,” said Walker. “It’s not a judgment on anybody.”
Walker received a question from a concerned resident during the May 3 Candidate’s Night about the safety of residents allowing strangers into their homes, asking whether the Town performs background checks on anyone asked to represent the Town in that capacity. Walker said he would look into it if elected.
Marion Board of Assessors
By Jean Perry