Szyndlar Appointed to Assessors

Rochester’s three Select Board members overrode the wishes of the two-member Board of Assessors and appointed Finance Director Suzanne Szyndlar as a new member of the Assessors’ panel on Monday.

            Board of Assessors Chairperson Jana Cavanaugh and member Diana Knapp had wanted recently retired assessor Debra Lalli to return to the position as an appointee, but because Szyndlar had also applied for the opening, job interviews of the both of them had to happen first.

            After the interviews, Knapp and Cavanaugh voted in favor of Lalli. But the three selectmen voted no. The Select Board’s follow-up motion to appoint Szyndlar drew “no” from Knapp and Cavanaugh but still passed by a 3-2 margin.

            In the interviews, Szyndlar told the boards about her 22 years of municipal experience, including nine years on the Board of Assessors and experience assisting with assessing procedures as town accountant and town administrator. Szyndlar said she dropped from the Board of Assessors only because at the time, she was the town accountant in both Rochester and Mattapoisett. “I enjoyed being an assessor,” Szyndlar said. “I bring a lot to the table.”

            Lalli emphasized the fact she, too, has served the town for 22 years, but all of that time has been with the Assessors Department. She noted she has worked in the department since September 2000 as a clerk, then as an administrative assistant, then as an Assessment administrator.

            Lalli became an assessor in 2015 when assessor John Mello retired. She is certified as a Massachusetts-accredited assessor; her current state certification expires in 2024. She retired as Assessment administrator in June in order to collect her pension but had every intention to reapply once the state’s mandatory one-day waiting period had been fulfilled.

            The Board of Assessors, Lalli pointed out, is currently engaged in the Massachusetts mandate of recertification. “It is unfair to the taxpayers to appoint someone new during this critically busy time,” she said, adding that she is the one person who can independently step in “to provide the leadership, skills and assistance necessary to carry out the tasks at hand.”

            After the vote did not go her way, Lalli said she will definitely run for the position when it appears on the Town Election ballot in May of 2023. Szyndlar’s term in the position expires at the time of that election; Lalli retired from an elected position. Szyndlar, too, said she will run for the position in 2023.

            In other action, the selectmen signed a new, three-year contract with the Police union. The highlights of new agreement include new longevity and retention pay. Juneteenth is a new holiday in this contract, and union members will receive a $250, one-time stipend for that holiday this year only.

            The Rochester Select Board’s next meeting is scheduled to be held on Monday, August 22, at 6:00 pm at Town Hall.

Rochester Select Board

By Michael J. DeCicco

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