Wednesday, May 2, 2012

T&G - Ethics Commission wraps up complaint over Worcester assessor’s home. State panel ‘satisfied’ by review


WORCESTER —  The state Ethics Commission is taking no further action on a complaint regarding the significant drop in the assessed valuation of City Assessor William J. Ford’s home in recent years.

Mr. Ford was notified of the Ethics Commission’s action yesterday in a letter it sent him.

“As you know, we discussed with you a concern that your home’s assessed value had been significantly lowered in the past two years,” wrote Katherine E. Gallant, senior investigator for the commission. “Relying on what you told us and on any other necessary follow-up investigation and document review, we are satisfied that this matter does not require any further action on our part.”

Stephen Quist of June Street filed a complaint last month with the Ethics Commission in which he raised questions as to how Mr. Ford’s property valuation could go down by roughly $270,000 since he purchased the home in August 2010.

Mr. Quist pointed out that the valuation of Mr. Ford’s home at 360 Salisbury St. went down considerably, while the valuations for many other homeowners had at least stayed pretty much the same or had even gone up in some instances.

“It all begs the question of who’s guarding the henhouse?” Mr. Quist said when he filed his complaint.

Mr. Ford has also been the target of criticism from the citizens group, Accurate Worcester Assessments on Real Estate.

The group has pointed out that Mr. Ford’s home and property was assessed at $897,100 for fiscal 2010, the year in which he purchased it.

The assessment then dropped to $687,200 in fiscal 2011 and the new assessment is $620,000

The group pointed out that the land valuation of Mr. Ford’s 2.52 acres, which includes two half-acre buildable lots, is $66,500.

In comparison, the group said, the assessed land value of an abutting .56-acre on Surrey Lane is $100,4000, while the assessed land value for another .62-acre abutting property is $100,300.

Both those properties are within different neighborhood assessing codes than Mr. Ford’s property.


Anonymous said...

It would be nice to know exactly what the commission verified.
Most likely whether he filed an abatement form supported with sales data, but not if he approved his own abatement.

Now if he approved his own abatement, then we have an issue.

If an assessor's employee approved it then we have an issue.

The fact is Ford gave himself an abatement. How unethical can that be?

Imagine all the backroom deals Allard gave city businesses for decades. Probably in the 10's of millions.

That the city manager never sensed that there were improprieties in the assessors office speaks volumes about the corruption there.

Anonymous said...

The question is what did Zedelis know. Did he sign-off on Ford's abatement?

Anonymous said...

All abatements should be public information.

Anonymous said...

Aren't municipalities also covered by SOX 404?

Anonymous said...

Yes SOX is valid for municipalities too. SOX 404 raises the question, who is authorized to approve financial requests.
Basically the process is so that an employee’s request (in this case, Ford’s abatement) should not be approved by his supervisor, CFO Zedelis. Usually there are limits as to how much a supervisor can approve. To avoid the appearance of collusion, organizations usually require that the supervisor’s supervisor (in this case the City Manager) approve the employee’s request. Or the board of directors (city council). What we have here, is the appearance of collusion between Zedelis and Ford. That commission’s decision to clear Ford of wrongdoing just addressed one issue. Did Ford legitimately get the abatement.

With the mention by the city manager of the system overrides for commercial properties, it raises the question, why and who was doing it. What was Allard doing the last 10 years as city assessor?

How is it that Ford knew of the system of favoritism yet he did nothing about it. Isn't it his job to vouch for the correctness of all valuations? But with the commercials, he turned a blind eye.

There’s more here than meets the eye.

Anonymous said...

The attitude here is incomprehensible how Ford was even considered for his position. It is clear that Worcester is at the mercy of a corrupt city council and mayor that are only interested in their own financial gains ! The funds are squandered, memorial buildings are being abandoned and left for disrepair, Tax payers receive nothing in return, and are additionally charged for garbage removal, water/sewer, fined for not shoveling snow, parking, and commercial commerce has been severely taxed to put the burden on the consumer (Tax payers) Choose your next vote wisely !!

Anonymous said...

These assessments are all over the place, its clear that this clown is using Zillow software to do his job instead of getting off of his but to do the job he should have been hired to do!