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Financial news and information related to the town and schools in Arlington, Mass. The sources are official and unofficial. Links to sources that include opinion are marked as such.

CHECK IT OUT: Town's online Open Checkbook updated

Finances logo

Open Checkbook, one of the town's online resources that lets you track budgets and spending, is back in business.

If you tried to reach the feature this summer, you saw it was undergoing maintenance for at least two months. No longer.

"The town is committed to continually increasing its level of transparency and the Open Checkbook initiative is an example of meeting that commitment," Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine said in a Sept. 11 news release. "When the opportunity to improve the service and lower the cost came along, we seized it. We continue to monitor industry trends for similar opportunities."

Updates to Arlington’s new Open Checkbook include a more intuitive user interface and compatibility with mobile devices.

Additionally, the content will be updated weekly, and town will save $11,000 annually. OpenCheck LLC of Springfield, Mass., is providing the service. The company provides similar services for Gardner and Northampton.

Originally launched in April 2015, Open Checkbook provides financial information about the town's expenditures to help residents better understand where the town spends its money. This interactive website can be used to search specifics of vendor payments by category, department and government area.

View the updated Open Checkbook, along with additional financial and budget information, at >>

This news announcement was published Monday, Sept. 11, 2017.

Public schools launch online effort inviting you to compare finances, testing

Finances logo

UPDATED: The Arlington public-school administration has partnered with ClearGov, a transparency and bench-marking platform. The new site provides taxpayers with:

-- An easy-to-understand, visual breakdown of the district's finances;

-- Insights into the student demographics, staffing, test performance and state aid; and

-- Comparisons to similar school districts. Visitors can select from different "peer groups" to compare the district's performance against different sets of similar districts.

Residents can explore Arlington's new ClearGov site by visiting the district's website and clicking the Dashboard banner, or by clicking here >>

The online efforts joins other transparency measures established earlier by the town -- its visual budget, which dates to 2013, and the more recent Open Checkbook (currently undergoing maintenance). 

'Part of growing movement'

The infographic-based fiscal dashboard was announced in a district news release Friday, Sept. 1, which said, in part:

"Arlington Public Schools is part of a growing movement in the Massachusetts school systems that are taking transparency to a new level on the ClearGov InsightsTM platform.

"Superintendent Kathleen Bodie stated, 'I am pleased the district is able to make the information that we share with the state easily available and understandable to all our residents and taxpayers. I also appreciate the support of the School Committee in making this increased transparency a priority for the district.'"

ClearGov sources publicly available financial data on school districts from the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to create easy-to-understand websites for hundreds of school districts across Massachusetts, which are made available to the public for free. School districts can provide context through commentary on the figures.

The Arlington schools administration "was quick to recognize the impact that this transparency project could have," Chris Bullock, CEO of ClearGov, said in the release.

"We hope to assist them in leveraging data to improve efficiencies within the district and further strengthen communication with residents."

Asked about the cost of the dashboard, Bodie wrote Sept. 1: "I don't have the exact number, but it is about $7,000."

This news announcement was published Friday, Sept. 1, 2017.

Treasurer's office updates part of online-payment system

Finance image

The town treasurer's office has updated part of its online-payment system as part of ongoing improvements to its financial software.

On July 10, the town launched a new online payment system for these tax bills -- real estate, personal property and motor-vehicular excise.

Online payments for water/sewer bills and parking tickets continue to be collected with the old system and will move to the new system as the financial software is updated. 

Invoice Cloud, a Web-based company that produces electronic invoices and processes payments, is providing the new system.

A July 12 town news release says the system touts itself as user friendly and optimized for mobile devices. Users can schedule payments, including autopay. 

Invoice Cloud provides similar services to the Town of Burlington and the Cities of Somerville, Cambridge and Boston.

When you use the new system, please add no-reply at to your safe-senders list to ensure delivery of email notifications, including payment confirmation.

The town appreciates your patience through this transition. Make payments online to the town at  

This announcement was published Wednesday, July 12, 2017.


State budget includes funds for treatment center Donnelly supported

Globe, July 7:  FY '18 spending plan OK'd with $400M in cuts, business fees

Sheriff Peter KoutoujianKoutoujian

The fiscal 2018 state budget includes an appropriation of $250,000 for a Middlesex County restoration center backed by Senator Ken Donnelly before he died.

The center would provide greater opportunity for law enforcement and the courts to divert those with mental illness and/or substance disorders away from the criminal-justice system before arrest or adjudication. The center would help support ongoing efforts in nearly two-dozen Middlesex communities while  expanding the community capacity for treatment.

State Senator Barbara L'Italien, Democrat of 2nd Essex & Middlesex District, and Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian announced the approval of funds for the first year of a pilot program to establish the center, a July 7 news release said.

"I filed this budget amendment, historically supported by my late colleague Senator Ken Donnelly, because mental health and addiction should be treated as a public health issue," L'Italien said in the release. "Instead of criminalizing the disease of addiction, we must treat the victims of the opioid crisis -– which is hitting Middlesex County particularly hard -- with rehabilitation and support."

Koutoujian added: "Last year, 42 percent of those entering our custody required medical detox and 46 percent reported a history of mental illness. Our jails and houses of correction have become de facto mental health and addiction treatment facilities. The money for this initiative will help us determine how we can effectively break the cycle of incarceration by diverting more individuals away from incarceration and into treatment."

Cindy Friedman of Arlington, who won the Democrats' nomination June 27 for the Senate seat held by Donnelly until his April 2 death, said:

"Senator Donnelly worked hard to address the needs of those suffering with serious and persistent mental illness, and he would be thrilled that the creation of a restoration center has been included in the final budget. This is a giant step in the decriminalization of mental illness and substance use disorder in our state and I am so grateful for the commitment shown by our Legislature to address this important issue."

Nationally, the Dr. Roberto L. Jimenez, M.D. Restoration Center in San Antonio, Texas, has become the leading model for similar efforts. Founded in 2008 to help keep people in crisis out of jails and emergency rooms, the center offers a variety of services from crisis intervention to residential detoxification and programs for those suffering from co-occurring mental health and substance-use disorders, among others. 

This news announcement was published Friday, July 7, 2017.

Cost to renovate former Gibbs rises by $2 million

Finance image

UPDATED, April 13: Exterior work and a decision to replace all windows in the former Gibbs School have driven expected costs for the renovation $2 million higher than the amount voters approved last June.

School Committee logo

"The original cost estimate did not include replacing all the windows, though it was recognized that eventually all the windows would need to be replaced for the building to be in use for another 50 years," Superintendent Kathleen Bodie wrote in an email Wednesday, April 12.

"The rationale for replacing all the windows now is that over the long term, it is more cost effective and less disruptive."

That means the $25 million supported overwhelmingly as part of a $63 million debt exclusion falls short by $2 million.

"After more experts looked at the building envelope," she wrote, "additional repairs were recommended."

Capital planning seeks transfers

Town officials are working to find savings in other projects and elsewhere to make up the difference. An escalator clause under a debt exclusion permits some flexibility about a voted amount, to allow for inflation, but the town will still have to fill a gap beyond what voters supported last June 14. In that light, Deputy Town Manager Sandy Pooler was asked when the $2 million will be covered and the likely areas that town expects to find savings.

The Capital Planning Committee is looking at various sources, Pooler wrote April 12. The committee has not completed its report to Town Meeting, but he expects it will do so in the next few days.

"I think we will be able to identify transfers from remaining balances of previously completed projects, plus savings from other projects," he wrote.

In a phone conversation Thursday, April 13, he could not pinpoint the leeway for inflation that the state Depeartment of Revenue allows for such construction projects, but he thought that the flexibility plus other town sources would safely cover the overrun.


The Lesley Ellis School and Arlington Center for the Arts, among others, are relocating by the end of June so that the building can be renovated to accommodate enrollment that is expanding at Ottoson. With the sixth grade moving to East Arlington, seventh and eighth graders will have more room at Ottoson.

At the March 30 School Committee meeting, member Len Kardon raised the issue of cost increases to revamp the former Gibbs, noting that Town Meeting will expect a "crisp" explanation.

"Costs change," Bodie said and then explained what had happened since last June's vote.

Citing a generous contingency fund built into the budget for Gibbs, she said Finegold Alexander Architects expected some overage would be covered. But there has been more than expected.

While the architect has found long-term savings by building a separate wall to enclose wiring, its representatives decided more repairs would be needed as well as all new windows. Bodie called that the "biggest consideration."

Bodie said the town manager's office would be identifying sources of funds and the manager himself, Adam Chapdelaine, will be explaining the matter to Town Meeting.

This news summary was published Wednesday, April 12, 2017, and updated April 13.

Town's fiscal '18 preliminary budget: What does $151.4m pay for?

Proposed are using override fund, supporting enrollment growth, revamping Senior Center

Finance image

Town of Arlington seal

UPDATED, Jan. 18: Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine's fiscal 2018 preliminary budget message announces the 2018 operating and capital budgets as well as the fiscal 2018-22 capital plan.

The proposed budget totals $151,404,149, an increase of $3,952,695 (2.68 percent) from the current one. The message includes these key points in brief:

-- Fiscal 2018, which begins July 1, is the first year after the 2011 override proposing to withdraw money from the Override Stabilization Fund -- $360,107.

-- The 2011 override plan aimed to support town budgets through fiscal 2014, but a number of financial savings has extended the original goal possibly six years.

-- The town has addressed the financial pressures tied to growing student enrollment. A funding formula was put into effect in fiscal 2015, continued through 2017 and is again proposed.

-- To enhance the town as an age-friendly community, the budget proposes an investment in the Council on Aging with an increase in social worker staff time, and the fiscal 2018-2022 capital plan includes funds for a major renovation of the Senior Center as well as $500,000 in sidewalk improvements.

-- Overall, the manager describes the fiscal 2018 plan as maintaining core municipal services (police, fire, DPW) at current levels. "This approach," the manager writes, "allows the current override period to be maintained through FY2020. However, in FY2021, the town’s structural deficit reemerges and is projected to be approximately $4.5 million."

 Read the manager's full budget message here >>

The public release of this message is the first step in the annual budget process that culminates at Town Meeting.

As the budget process evolves and additional information becomes available over the next few months, the estimates and recommendations contained here will be adjusted as required.

Further detail will be made available in March via the town manager's annual budget and financial plan and in April with the release of of the Finance Committee's report to Town Meeting.

This announcement was published Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, and updated Jan. 18.

of 13
Town of Arlington
Office of the Town Manager
Adam W. Chapdelaine, Town Manager
Sandy Pooler, Deputy Town Manager
13, 2017
To: The Honorable Board of Selectmen and Finance Committee
I hereby transmit to you the recommended FY201
8 operating and capital budgets and the FY2018
capital plan. The budget as
proposed total
s $1
which is an increase
$3,952,695 (
from the current budget. FY2018 is the first year, following the
override passed in 2011 in which a withdrawal from the Override Stabilization Fund is proposed, in the amount of $36
A summary
showing a comparison of the
and FY201
8 revenues
and expenditures
is shown on
5. Also, this budget proposal will be made
available via the
online budget tool, Arlington Visual Budget
, by January 20
. It can be viewed at
FY2017, the current fiscal year, is
what was initially intended to be a three
-year plan that incorporated the
oposition 2 ½ override of 2011 designed to carry the Town’s budgets through FY2014. The key commitments
along with updates on the
status of meeting the
of that three
-year plan are
listed as follows:
1) Override funds will be made to last at least three years (FY2012
-FY2014). No general override will be sought during this period.
projections have extended
the plan to cover FY2012-FY
2) If the override passes there will be no P
ay As You Throw (P
) fee implemented in FY2012, but the placement of a ballot question
regarding a revenue neutral PAYT option will be considered in FY2013.
- This ballot question was not advanced due to the Town’s
implementation of a mandatory recycling program in
FY2013 which has stabilized
both hauling and waste disposal costs.
3) Town and School operating budget increases will be capped at 3.5% per year. An additional allowance of up to 7% shall be allowed for
documented special education cost increases. Should actual special education cost increases exceed this amount, the remaining School budget
shall be decreased by the difference.
This commitment has been maintained and this year’s Town operating budget proposes a
. Due to
ollment growth, a
funding increase
3.5% is proposed and discussed
4) Health care cost increases will be programmed at 7%. Should actual increases exceed this amount, the Town and School bud
get totals
shall be proportionately decreased by the excess amount.
Should actual increases be less than this amount as a result of negotiated health
care savings, the extra savings will be:
a) Deposited into the override stabilization fund to extend
the three year override period;
b) Used to preserve services; and
c) To satisfy any and all negotiated item
s between the Town Manager, employees, and retirees.
– The override period
been extended to nine
years from the original three
-year period based to a large degree on health care savings and the first year
health care savings also supported FY2012 wage settlements with employee bargaining units.
For future planning purposes,
health care premiums are projected to grow at 5.25%, which more accurately reflects the historical average annual growth of
Group Insu
rance Commission premiums.
5) An additional $600,000 shall be appropriated for the School Department in FY2012 and $400,000 shall be appropriated each
year in
addition to the amount currently appropriated in the capital budget for road improvements. –
This commitment has been met
6) Reserves shall be maintained in an amount equivalent to at least 5% of the budget. –
This commitment is being maintained.
At the time
override was proposed, the Town was facing a projected deficit of $6 million. Also at that time,
the Legislature was
discussing giving municipalities more authority to control their health care plans and costs. Optimistically
, it was assumed that some
changes would be made to allow the Town to save $1 million. The proposed override was then set at $6.49 million, an amount th
to maintain
service levels for three years.
Approximately a month after the override passed, the State
approved a significant health care reform law for municipalities that provided
authority to make health care plan design
s which matched what the
State provides to its employees and also authorized
municipalities to
join the State’s health care plan. As a result, Arlington joined the State’s health care plan
, the Group Insurance Commission
(GIC) and has
nificant savings which have
d the Town to stretch the three
-year plan to a nine-
year plan. We are mindful of the stron
desire of residents to maintain quality
services and the sacrifices
they have made by supporting the override. We are committed to pursue
all appropriate productivity improvements and cost reduction measures in order to sustain these quality services.
Balancing Community Needs with Fiscal Prudence
Beginning in the fall of 2014, the Long Range Planning Committee
held a series of discussions focused on the future of Town and
School budgets and the amount by which they should grow on an annual basi
s. These discussions were prompted by the desire of
committee members to
explore strategies that could extend the life of the current Long Range P
and thereby forestall the next
time an operating override would need to be considered. These discu
resulted in a number of recommendations being adopted for
the FY2016 budget
based upon the following principles:
rcising fiscal prudence to maintain
financial stability through the success of a future operating override.
prudence wit
h recognition of the needs and expectations of Arlington residents and building Town and School budgets
Committing to strategically address the findings of the Comparative Compensation Study within the confines of the proposed lo
range planning parameters.
Adherence to these principles guided the creation of the FY2016 budget, the FY2017 budget, and this FY2018 budget proposal. Based
upon these principles, and the ongoing discussion of the Long Range Planning Committee, the following commit
ments are being
maintained within the Long Range Plan:
Health insurance premium growth
is projected at 5.25% ann
ually, mirroring
the 10 year
average premium growth o
f the GIC.
Free Cash is
assumed to be certified each year at the 10
-year average certified
The rate of growth in annual pension costs is maintained at or below
Annual budget growth for Town Departments is
set at 3.25% for FY2018 and beyond.
Annual budget growth for the
general education portion of the School Department
is maintained at 3.5% for FY2018 and
In addition to these commitments, the Town has also committed to addressing the financial pressures associated with Arlington
’s growing
student enrollment. A funding formula, referred to as “Growth Factor” was first implemented in FY2015, continued through FY2017, and
is once again proposed as part of the FY2018 budget proposal. The details of this formula and its budgetary impact are described below.
Continuing to Meet
the Needs of a Growing School Population
In its initial implementation, the Growth Factor multiplied the amount of new students as of October 1
each year by 25% of DESE
certified per pupil costs (PPC). Beginning in FY2017, this amount was increased to represent 35% of PPC as certified by DESE. For
FY2018, this calculation has been maintained. Based on this, the FY2018
budget recommendation is as follows:
FY 2017
FY 2018
$ Increase
% Increase
General Education Costs
Special Education Costs
Kindergarten Fee Offset
Growth Factor
FY 17 Enrollment Growth
DESE PPC for Arlington
35% of PPC for Arlington
Growth Factor (35% PPC x 242)
Growth Factor Breakdown
In addition to this significant increase, this budget recommendation further proposes that any increase in Chapter 70 aid above what is
currently estimated ($363,000) be provided to the School Department. Standing alone, this budget recommendation provides a
significant funding increase for the School Department, a 6.57% increase in an environment where property tax revenues are capped at an
increase of 2.5%.
ting to an Age Friendly Arlington
Along with making an important, continued investment in Arlington schools, the FY2018 budget also proposes an investment in
enhancing Arlington’s attractiveness as an Age Friendly community. This terminology, coined by t
he AARP, describes a community that is
welcoming to people of all ages. Specifically, the FY2018 budget proposes an investment in the Council on Aging with an incr
ease in social
worker staff time and the FY2018 –
FY2022 Capital Plan contains an investment
a major renovation of the Town’s Senior Center. Going
further, the FY2018 capital budget proposes investing $500,000 in sidewalk improvements, which is aimed at improving accessib
ility and
mobility throughout the community.
Overall, the FY2018 budget
proposal is a level services budget that maintains core municipal services (Police, Fire, DPW) at current levels.
However, targeted investments have been made to address community needs and the details of those changes are discussed on page 6.
the current override period to be
maintained through FY2020. However, in FY2021
, the Town’s structural deficit
reemerges and is projected to be approximately $
. The Town’s structural deficit is discussed in greater detail on page 10
the Town’s Long Range P
lan can be viewed on page

BUDGET VISION: Online app started here eyes wider horizon

Annie LaCourt

Alan JonesCan you visualize a town budget? Two Arlington residents have been providing online tools to do that for nearly three years, and they're idea is catching on.

Annie LaCourt and Alan Jones helped create the Arlington Visual Budget in 2013. Now the app is in 15 communities nationwide, with five more Massachusetts communities considering it.

"For smaller communities, I think it's a big deal, because they can't always afford the big vendors," LaCourt said in a report by Government Technology, "For smaller communities I think it’s a big deal, because they can't always afford the big vendors, and it allows them to prove value, both to themselves and to taxpayers."

LaCourt, a former selectman, and Jones, vice chair of the town's Finance Committee, both with high-tech background, worked with Involution Studio in Arlington to develop a way for town residents to view hard data, assist city staff with budget communication, and aid other cities hunting for low-cost transparency tools.

The pair cofounded VisGov, which the state of Massachusetts awarded a $40,000 grant to develop the tool into interactive visuals that can be embedded in any website.

Besides the tool's use in 15 locales -- which are mainly in Massachusetts, but also in Virginia and North Carolina (see here, at left) -- LaCourt told YourArlington: "We are currently working on [sites for] Wenham, Grafton, Sharon, Andover and Bedford."

You can read more about this at "Low-Cost Budget Visualization Tool Gains Momentum,"but Jones calls the comparison of their effort with paid options OpenGov and Socratra "quite an overstatement."

Sept. 20, 2015: Town's visual budget scores Digital Government Achievement Award

Oct. 8, 2013: Start-up, town move toward an online budget vision

This update was published Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016.

June 11 eyed as date for debt-exclusion vote for school projects

Only Board of Selectman can put measure on ballot

UPDATED, April 15: The town's Long Range Planning Committee focused its discussion about when to hold a debt-exclusion vote to address paying for school issues on Saturday, June 11 -- less than two months from now.

Finances logo

Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine said April 14, the day after the meeting, that he "would hesitate to officially call it a hard date." He said he expected selectmen to discuss the issue at its next meeting, April 25, just before Town Meeting starts. The agenda matter must be confirmed with board Chair Diane Mahon.

In recent months, members of the School Committee, dealing with expending enrollment, have discussed putting the money-raising matter on the ballot sooner rather than later. Some selectmen have favored waiting until fall.

On Wednesday, April 13, the majority of the long-range committee backed a June 11 vote, a date best suited for school-building projects.

Proposition 2 1⁄2, the tax-limiting measure passed in 1980, allows communities to raise money beyond the levy limit to pay for bonds. Only the Board of Selectmen can adopt such a ballot question.

The precise terms of the ballot question were not discussed.

The vote could address these projects -- an expanded middle school, a renovated former Gibbs, more space for the Thompson School, the town's portion of a rebuilt Minuteman High School and a feasibility study for a new Arlington High School building. 

Increased enrollment at Ottoson and other schools have spurred the push for more classrooms.

Estimates by town officials say middle-school improvements could cost $30 million, but more precise numbers are not expected until April 28, when HMFH, a Cambridge architect, is expected to release its final report on the schools.

As enrollment increases at the Thompson, the School Enrollment Task Force has recommended building an addition. Schools Superintendent Kathy Bodie has estimated that would cost from $3 million to $5 million.

The cost for an Arlington High School feasibility study is estimated at $2 million. The Minuteman High School project is expected to cost Arlington $30 million, or $1.5 million annually to the town for a particular period.

Chapdelaine told the committee that pushing a vote to November would keep the middle-school option from opening by September 2018.

If officials decide on the Gibbs middle-school option, the four current tenants of the building -- including Arlington Center for the Arts and Lesley Ellis School -- must be notified by the end of this June. If that occurs, the tenants would have to move by July 1, 2017.

The tenants, also including the Kelliher Center and the Learn to Grow preschool, have been situated at the former Gibbs since the late 1980s.

Of those voting, only Selectman Dan Dunn did not support June 11, saying he needs more time to reflect on such a key decision. 

The next meeting of the Long Range Planning Committee is set for 8 a.m. Thursday, April 21, in the town manager's conference room, second floor, Town Hall Annex.

March 28, 2016: School Committee votes to express sense of urgency about enrollment moves

March 22, 2016: Long Range Planning faces debt-exclusion decisions

March 9, 2016: Task force hopes interim cost data for school options ready in a month

Nov. 15, 2014: Racism? Bodie says updated numbers show decline in out-of-school suspensions

This news summary was published Thursday, April 14, 2016, and April 15, to add next meeting date.

What is preliminary assessed value of town properties for fiscal '16?

If you are an Arlington property owner, or are simply nosy, you can look up the preliminary assessed value of town properties for fiscal 2016.

Finances logo

To check a property by location, click here >>

To check a property by owner, click here >>

The state Department of Revenue, Bureau of Local Assessment, has completed its preliminary review of the Arlington assessors' revaluation program and the proposed assessments for all classes of property for fiscal 2016.

Public disclosure is part of the revaluation and recertification of values required by law every three years.

The public-disclosure period where the proposed values are available for review is brief. It began Nov. 16 and ends Friday, Nov. 20.

The state still must certify the valies, which is expected to occur in December.

For more information, including where to direct questions, click here >>

This story was published Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015.

Town's visual budget scores Digital Government Achievement Award

Screen shot from Arlington Visual BudgetScreen shot from Arlington's Visual Budget.

Arlington Visual Budget has been awarded the Center for Digital Government’s Digital Government Achievement Award.

The awards highlight outstanding agency and department websites and apps. These awards are presented in eight categories. To see the full list of winners, click here >>

"These winners are recognized for responsive and mobile-first design, open government, open data, improved transparency and integration with social media," Todd Sander, executive director of the center, said in a news release. "Congratulations to the awardees for their impressive work to make government more accessible and responsive to citizens."

The town's visual budget is an online tool developed in Arlington by Involution Studios to track town finances two years ago.

Involution, with the Town of Arlington, former Selectman Annie LaCourt and Finance Committee Vice Chair Alan Jones, conceptualized a web application that provides an easier way to communicate complex municipal financial information.

Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine has said: "Hopefully, the transparency and inclusiveness inherent in this project will encourage more citizens to engage politically. Transparent and open government has demonstrated the power not only to achieve this goal, but also to engender confidence and trust among citizens toward government."

Oct. 8, 2013: Start-up, town move toward an online budget vision

This report was published Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015. 

Arlington budget innovation turns up in Virginia

Screen shot from Arlington Visual BudgetScreen shot from Arlington's Visual Budget.

An online tool developed in Arlington to track town finances two years ago is helping residents of Charlottesville, Va.

The city is using visual budget developed here by Involution Studios

Smart Cville created the Charlottesville Budget Visualization project, using color-coordinated displays and maps to show the city’s revenues and expenses over a fiscal year.

"This project would not be possible without some great leaders in Massachusetts," a news release says. Involution, with the Town of Arlington, former Selectman Annie LaCourt and Finance Committee Vice Chair Alan Jones, conceptualized a web application that provides an easier way to communicate complex municipal financial information.

Smart Cville says Charlottesville, home of the University of Virginia, is the first city in that state to use this form of budget visualization.

"It’s takes a really complicated financial instrument like the city budget and breaks it down into an interactive visualization with more digestible chunks for the average citizen to understand," said Lucas Ames with Smart Cville.

As in Arlington, the website is free to use and was not developed by the city, so no taxpayer dollars went toward it. See Charlotteville's effort here >> See Arlington's here >> 

Other cities in Virginia have budget visualizations, but they are published on sites that carry costs to the taxpayer, Smart Cville said.

Smart Cville's comments about the effort reflect an attitude projected by Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine:

"Hopefully, the transparency and inclusiveness inherent in this project will encourage more citizens to engage politically. Transparent and open government has demonstrated the power not only to achieve this goal, but also to engender confidence and trust among citizens toward government."

Oct. 8, 2013: Start-up, town move toward an online budget vision

This report was published Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015. 

Schools' CFO differs about allotting special-education funds

YourArlington asked Diane Johnson, the schools’ chief financial officer, about the argument presented by Charles Foskett, the Finance Committee vice chair, at the March 25 Fincom meeting about how the administration handles special- and regular-education funds.

School budget logo"If, over time, we find that 7% is not the right number, it should certainly be re-examined."-- Diane Johnson, schools' chief financial officer

Foskett had said he would move at Town Meeting to cut $1 million from the proposed fiscal 2016 school budget, but he has since said he would not do that. 

His lengthy argument is outlined here >>

"I think the main point of contention about the 7% annual growth in Special Education funding is what happens in years when Special Education costs rise less than 7%," she wrote in an email Wednesday, April 8. "I think everyone agrees that in years when our Special Education costs grow more than 7%, the School Department must take funding away from General Education to fund the difference.

"Mr. Foskett feels that the Town should reduce its funding contribution down to the actual growth of special education in good years (when costs rise less than 7%) but the School Department should eat the overage in bad years (when costs rise more than 7%)."

"Others, including myself, feel that we should receive the 7% in good years and bad, so that we can restore General Education after it has taken the hit to cover special education in a prior year.

"If, over time, we find that 7% is not the right number, it should certainly be reexamined. 7% was simply closest to the average growth over time of Special Education expenses at the time it was started" following the 2011 override.

10-year breakdown

Johnson was also asked about a 10-year breakdown on special-ed funds that two Fincom members said March 25 the administration has not provided.

"I did provide information about special-education special education to the Finance Committee," she wrote.

"There is a multiyear report going back to 2005 that provides total amounts, but doesn't provide an accurate view of different types of spending, because circuit breaker and other special education grants are listed on one line, and do not indicate if the funds are used for in-district or out-of-district expenses.

"This report was developed when I arrived here [in 2009]. I needed to retrieve data from DESE [the state Department of Elementary & Secondary Education] for those years before I was here, and DESE doesn't think about special education the way we do in Arlington.

"I have also provided more detailed expense information from FY11 through FY15, which allow a clearer look at different types of spending without excluding important sources of funding from outside Arlington, namely circuit breaker and grants."

She provided a modified version of the spreadsheet that was requested by the Fincom, and you can see it here >> 

This chart has line-item detail removed, leaving the annual total amounts of special-education expenses.

She wrote: "You can see that bad years can be really bad."

Argument would push School Department backward

She wrote that since the town started increasing funding for special and general education separately in fiscal 2012, the differential amount through this year -- using current projections to finish fiscal 2015 -- shows that general education is down $100,062 because of the need to cover special-education cost growth.

"Everyone values a sustainable financial arrangement that allows us to meet our financial obligations to our children with special needs," she wrote.

"Through much negotiation, we have decided on the 7% arrangement, and it is working well. Our per pupil expenditures are below the average for the state, and for the Town Manager's 12 comparable communities.

"I do not believe that we are overspending. I do believe that Mr. Foskett is wrong to insist that the School Department receive less funding when special-education costs grow less than 7 percent, and not enough funding when special-education costs grow more than 7 percent.

"If his belief on this topic carries the day at Town Meeting, it will push the School Department backward by forcing us to cut into general education to support special education.

This story was published Monday, April 13, 2015.

Explainer: Behind viewpoint that would cut $1m from school budget

An Arlington leader can change his mind, and Charlie Foskett has. After spelling out a lengthy argument in March to the Finance Committee questioning the way the school administration is handling special-education funds, Foskett said he planned to ask Town Meeting to cut $1 million from the school budget proposed for next year.

School budget logo
"It's not OK to change the rules."
Jud Pierce, School Committee

Then this month the vice chairman of the Finance Committee decided to go along with the vote of the board, which approved the planned school budget, by a vote of 13-4-1.

His desire to cooperate with the committee has history: He said that during his tenure on the Finance Committee, the only time he has acted against its vote that he can remember was on the Park Circle Fire Station, in 2005.

Before changing his mind about fiscal 2016 school budget, which Town Meeting will take up this year, Foskett told the Fincom on March 25 that the administration is "playing footloose and fancy-free with taxpayers' money"in ways that are contrary to the plan aimed at controlling costs following the 2011 override.

Among other goals, that plan called for annual limits on increases for town and school budgets of 3 1/2 percent and a 7 percent for special education. The plan worked well for three years and was extended to 2020. This year the town's Long-Range Planning Committee has proposed some changes to those targets.

This proposal and the Fincom discussion in March led to vocal upset by some School Committee members at their March 26 meeting.

"It's not OK to change the rules, committee member Jud Pierce said, referring to the proposal to alter established budget targets as well as at a plea to cut $1 million from the school budget. Contacted the next day, he declined further public comment.

What are the proposed changes, and what did Fincom consider March 25? The answers illustrate town leaders trying to rein in hard-to-control issues.

Changes to the three-year, postoverride plan were discussed at February's Budget & Revenue Task Force meeting, Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine said. The details are included in his budget message (see annual 2016 budget message, page 6). It says:

Charles FoskettAdministration is "playing footloose and fancy-free with taxpayers' money."-- Charles Foskett, vice chair, Finance Committee

What the changes are

Under the heading "Balancing Community Needs with Fiscal Prudence," it says, in part:

"Annual budget growth for the general education portion of the School Department budget will be maintained at 3.5% for FY2016, reduced to 3.25% for FY2017, and then reduced to 3% for FY2018 and beyond."

The Long-Range Planning Committee includes members of the town and school administration, including those quoted in this story.

There has been little public discussion about these proposed changes in postoverride targets. The Advocate's report of the Feb. 23 budget task force does not mention them. YourArlington did not cover the meeting. A page one report in last week's Advocate refers to the issue but does not explain its impact. This report is an attempt to do that.

A summary of Fincom's votes March 25 shows the tug-of-war that can occur over town money matters. Following a respectful hourlong discussion, the committee cast three:

First was a motion to table the school budget and have school-administration representatives return -- they had made a lengthy presentation two days earlier. That was defeated, 5-11, with two abstentions.

Next was a motion by Foskett to reduce the fiscal 2016 school budget plan by $1 million. It was turned back, 5-10, with three abstentions.

Last, a motion to approve the budget passed, 13-4, with one abstention.

Following the March 26 School Committee meeting, YourArlington tried to learn the source of some school officials' upset and was directed to the Fincom meeting, which eventually became available in video on demand.

Foskett's argument

At the March 25 Fincom meeting, Foskett provided numbers showing that out-of-district spending for special education has declined in the past year and money that might have been spent on special education has been transferred to general education.

Foskett said he is "not talking about nickels and dimes" and that the school administration counts the 7-percent cap for special-education spending as a revenue source. His argument goes this way:

-- Special-education spending for fiscal 2016 shows an increase of 1.6 percent without salary increases. The difference between the forecast expense and the 7-percent limit is about $1.55 million.

-- Special-education spending for fiscal 15 is projected at $19,121,299. If the entire account were personnel, a 3-percent increase in payroll would be $573,638, he explained in an email. Because outside services account for a large part the budget, be believes suspect the increases will be well under $500,000.

-- The remaining $1 million or more in spending is targeted for elementary and secondary general education. That is in addition to increases of 3.5 and for population growth. The latter refers to $530,069 added to the school budget because of increases in enrollment (see fiscal 2016 budget message, page 7). 

Foskett maintains that when the Long-Range Planning Committee agreed to a 7-percent cap for special education, it was supposed to be just for special education.

Out-of-district costs declining

In a separate story, Diane Johnson, the school's chief financial officer, notes the disagreement about this issue and portrays the school administration's side of the story

Contrary to fears about the rise of out-of-district spending -- that is, the costs incurred when a special-education student must attend a school beyond town borders -- he says his analysis shows most overruns come from in-district spending and that out-of-district spending has declined. His examples: Such spending increased 3 percent in 2013, then 11.74 percent the next year and back down to 3.3 percent last in 2015.

He told the Fincom that townside is cutting their budget in order to push out the need for an override, but that the school administration is increasing its budget. He believes the special-education cap should be reduced to 5 percent, from 7.

He says he strongly favors fully addressing special-education needs, but he says the school administration has been using those costs as a budget screen for the last several years. What he calls the "extra" $1 million should go into a special-education reserve to cover the big variances in costs or should go back to the override stabilization fund or free cash to the benefit of the taxpayer.

Foskett notes he intends to lead the effort for $11 million to refurbish Stratton and co-chaired the 2005 override campaign.

What other Fincom members said

A variety of voices spoke following Foskett's presentation at the March 25 Fincom meeting.

Fincom Chair Allen Tosti presented a measured view: He said special-education spending has been up and down over the period since the 2011 override. "As long as the average is 7 percent, they're reasonable," he said.

Tosti said he had suggested to Superintendent Kathleen Bodie that the administration have a reserve fund just for the special-education cap as a budget line item.

Dick Fanning, the Fincom's second vice chair who attends School Committee meetings to monitor the budget, commented that with social workers in every school, the schools are being "mother, fathers, doctors" to students.

Fincom member Tom Caccavaro expressed concern about the movement of funds and suggested that they were "moving up the floor"; that is, to administrators. He offered no specifics.

Committee member Len Kardon tempered the discussion some history: He said Arlington is not a town known for special-education services. In fact, a state review in 2005 found special education wanting in many areas. He said the School Committee is "facing a string demands" from parents. He added that the views of some on the Fincom "somewhat biased."

Member Dean Carman, in a lengthy defense of his position, said: "I am going to vote for the budget." The schools face numerous pressures as to special education, as well as enrollment. "Are they doing their best?" They are "when it’s understood that [you] can't keep hammering away" at them, he said.

Member Stephen W. DeCourcey was pointed: He said he would rather "rather the School Department tell [the Fincom] that they need the money elsewhere."

He added that he favored calling school reps back and provide answers that he said the committee was not getting.

Fincom member John Deyst said similar issues were addressed successfully a couple of years ago with the AYCC, a licensed mental health agency that supports Arlington youth and families. "They're now paying their way," he said.

Member Dave McKenna called special education a long-standing issue, because of unfunded mandates, one he knew well in his 15 years on the School Committee (he left in 2003). He said he would rather have a presentation with full facts on the budget. He suggested the Bodie should have added more.

He said Johnson "knows what she's talking about," but he agreed with DeCourcey that the Fincom did not get the answers it wanted. He also said he was "torn," because he agrees with Foskett and others.

Now it's on to Town meeting, which begins April 27, and this Finance Committee discussion may be a preview of what residents might hear when the school-budget articles comes up for discussion.

April 13, 2015: Schools' CFO differs about allotting special-education funds

Video on demand, March 25, 2015 Finance Committee meeting >> 

Proposed fiscal 2016 school budget 

This explanatory report was published Monday, April 13, 2015. The publisher thanks Sean Keane of ACMi, who helped in providing improved audio for the March 25 Finance Committee meeting video.

Town budget to rise 2.4% in fiscal '16, manager proposes

Debt exclusion for AHS rebuild coming; no override seen until fiscal 2021

The town manager's official recommended budget for fiscal 2016 totals $140,935,623, 2.43 percent higher than the current-year's fiscal plan.

Finances logo

The proposed total school budget for fiscal 2016 is $53,574,113, a 5.61-percent increase over the current fiscal year.

The budget plan includes the town's long-range financial plan, which says officials expect a shortfall in fiscal 2021, when the town could seek an override. The projected budget deficit for that year is $11.6 million. An override, last taken in 2011, is how a town raises money by an amount above the 2.5 percent allowed by Proposition 2 1/2, a state law.

Officials had thought the 2011 override for $6.49 million would be enough for three years, but current estimates show the money is projected to last nine years. Officials have said that this is, in part, because of savings after town employees joined the Group Insurance Commission, the state's insurance plan.

While an override is years away, voters will soon be asked to support a debt exclusion. That is a tax increase to pay for a specific project -- in this case, to pay for the proposed rebuild of the century-old Arlington High School.

Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine told YourArlington that debt exclusion will not include renovations of the Stratton School. His budget message says the proposed funding plan for Stratton will use the remaining authorization from the successful 2000 school debt exclusion ballot question.

Some highlights from the budget message:

* $500,000: Peirce Field replacement in capital budget, based on worn turf, as reported exclusively here >> 

* $131,000: New police cruisers

* $72,038: Increase in expenses for veterans’ service budget attributed to growing caseload

* $10,000: Saturday hours in the summer at the Robbins Library

The fiscal plan was submitted on the Jan. 15 deadline to selectmen and the Finance Committee. Later this spring, Town Meeting will vote on the proposal.

The memo from Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine says the budget data has been entered into the Arlington Visual Budget, which displays the numbers graphically.

Fiscal 2016 begins July 1.

This story was published Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015.

Familiar face chosen for assessments chief, as residents' video rolls

Jim Doherty, 2010Doherty

In the end, the Board of Assessors chose the man they know for the full-time position of head of assessments.

James F. Doherty, who resigned from the Board of Assessors in May without explanation, was voted on Monday, July 21, to be the next full-time director of assessments. The advertised annual salary range for the position, as of July 1, was $78,870 to $113,972.

Kevin Feeley and Robert Greeley voted in favor of Doherty. Mary Winstanley O'Connor, an attorney, abstained from the vote because Doherty is one of her clients. She declined to join the discussion before the vote but asked questions during the interviews.

Greeley, who been the town's assessments director for 24 years before retiring in 2011, called Doherty "the most qualified ... head and shoulders." Feeley, the board chair, agreed. Doherty will be leaving the job of appraiser/assistant assessor in Burlington, where he has been since 2010.

The board allotted 30 minutes voted to interview each of the finalists, including Jean-Paul Plouffe, principal assessor for the Town of Westford, and Thaddeus "Tad" J. Jankowski, who has held positions in Natick, Alexandria, Va., and Worcester.

Doherty will be taking the position that became vacant in April, when John B. Speidel resigned for reasons that have not been disclosed. Job details for Doherty are expected to be worked out next week. The annual salary in the last year Speidel worked here was $92,275.

Recordings reflect distrust 

Media representatives joined members of the public in the assessor's meeting room on the first floor of Town Hall. Reflecting distrust about the process, two residents recorded the meeting. Mark Kaepplein used a video recorder, and Stephen Harrington his cellphone. Chris Loreti, who in June had filed a number of complaints about the process, listened. Spencer Buell, a reporter for The Advocate took notes on a laptop and recorded audio. YourArlington's publisher wrote on a legal pad.

Before the interviews, Harrington offered citizen comment. He asked members to "pay close attention to this choice," because the board needs transparency, adding that "in last year that has not been true."

He referred Doherty's role as a developer. He said he would feel "put upon" by someone in the job with an "ongoing conflict."

No questions about potential conflict

In his interview, the three board members asked Doherty no questions about his role as a contractor in town.

In comments before the vote, members summed up how they were leaning.

"Paul doesn't have the experience," Greeley said. "I'm not sure Ted could hit the ground running."

Feeley said Jankowski's resume was "confusing," adding, "I think he's been too far away from [assessing]." His resume says he last performed assessments in 1992.

Doherty is "best for the town," Feeley said. "We have a problem that needs to be solved immediately."

Here are brief summaries of the interviews of finalists for a position that focuses on how properties are valued for tax purposes.




Feeley: Why apply for this position?

 He noted his history in assessing, dating to 1981, the year Proposition 2 1/2 took effect. He was a consultant in Arlington and then managed other revaluations.

(See his resume below.)

He expressed his love for Arlington and called the town a place for "the premier directors of assessments in the state." Across from him sat Greeley, who long held the position he was seeking.

Greeley: Explain how your background ties together in terms of fairness?

He said there were "not a lot" of problems in Burlington. He noted his background included all aspects of building. After working in Watertown, he led teams at KMPG, a tax and audit firm, in national efforts. He also testifies as an expert witness as well as in appellate cases.

Feeley: How would you improve the software situation in the treasurer's office?

He said he sat on a committee two years to discuss improvements. He said that proprietary software meets the needs of Treasurer Steve Gilligan. The experience shows, he said, that he said he knows how to work together as a team.

Greeley said he is a "little nervous" about people appearing to lose faith in the assessors department in the last year and a half. Can you restore credibility?

He responded by saying that other communities view Arlington positively. "The most important feedback is from the taxpayers," he said. There are "no problems [here] the way you see in other communities."

He said he faced a loss of trust in Watertown and was able to overcome it, in part via computerization.

Further, he described a situation in the mid-2000s in Concord, which is not on his resume. Hundreds of abatements were sought after majority of Board of Assessors left. The town asked for a report, and he spent two years on it before providing it. He said the report was "able to turn that ship around."

Feeley: Trends in the field?

He cited handheld devices to collect data and measure buildings. 


Why apply?

In current office 15 years, he said he has maxed out on benefits and pay, and is looking at retirement in seven or so years.

O'Connor: What did you do for 22 years (1977-'99)?

Among other things, he worked as a barber, something his father had done.

O'Connor: With 9,000 accounts in Westford (Arlington has 16,000), do you use Patriot Properties, the company Arlington uses for data?

Yes, in revaluation years. Otherwise, work is done in-house. (Westford is 85 percent residential, 15 percent commercial; Arlington is 94 percent residential.)

Greeley: Fairness?

He performs a revaluation every year, not every year. "Everybody should be treated the same," he said. "If you don't do that, you lose credibility."

How do you encourage cooperation?

He gets builders of larger plans to see him first to describe projects for assessing purposes.

Greeley: What would you like to know from us?

What hasn't been done?, he asked. Greeley said the department is behind in permit work and is working with a new data collector.

Greeley: If you were hired when might you finish the current year's work?

Some might not be done until next spring, he said. Later, Greeley made clear that he thought the state might not approve numbers next December if that occurred. 


Why apply?

After saying he got out of assessments and worked in management and financial positions, he said: "I missed it [assessing]. I missed all my friends."

What talents do you bring to the job?

"A lot of basic skills," he said, including modeling, an assessment method. He noted attending a GIS camera conference, showing the latest in technology.

Feeley asked about new technology.

He said he did SaaS work in the Nassau County position. 

Greeley asked about the cost of new technology.

"It's coming down," he said.

Feeley: "It's been awhile since your involvement in local assessing. This is a hands-on job. Do you feel you can do that?"

He said he worked from the bottom up in Oxford, Mass. I enjoy that."

O'Connor noted the relatively short times at jibs and asked whether here were personality issues.

He said he was the third person in four years at the Greater Boston Real Estate Board. "It wasn't the right match," he said.

In Nassau County, a Democratic executive brought him in, but the Democrats were later voted out, and so was he. 


James F. Doherty

Professional Experience:

Appraiser/Assistant Assessor, Burlington, Massachusetts. Responsible for the assessment of 9,500 parcels of real and personal property totaling over $5 billion in assessed value. As department head, I am responsible for a budget of approximately $250,000 and a staff of three. (June 2010 to present)

New England Practice Leader, Deloitte/Thomson, Property Tax Consulting Practice. Responsible for a team of seven professionals focusing on delivering property tax services to clients in all market segments. As the leader of this region, I am responsible for developing and implementing a marketing and delivery system to provide our services. Responsible for a revenue goal of

$1.7 million and budget of $900,000. Deloitte sold this national practice to Thomson Tax and Accounting in October, 2007. (July, 2006-May, 2010)

• President, James F. Doherty & Associates, Valuation Consultants. Firm provided property tax consulting services to corporate clients. Although clients include most industries, our concentration has been in energy and telecommunications. From 2000 to 2003, we were contracted for the entire property tax function at Genuity. This involved responsibility for all compliance and appeal work. In addition, weekly reporting to upper management and preparation of budgeting estimates were our responsibility. (September, 2000-July, 2006)

• KPMG, Practice Leader, Northeast Property Tax/Valuation Group.

Responsible for creating and growing a property tax consulting practice in conjunction with the development of a national practice. During my tenure, I was responsible for a team often professionals which consistently generated revenues in excess of $2 million annually, a significant contribution to the bottom line, with a budget of $1.1 million. (March, 1993-September, 2000)

• Chairman, Board of Assessors, Watertown Massachusetts. Responsible for the assessment of 10,000 parcels of real and personal property totaling more than $2 billion in assessed value. As department head, I was responsible for a budget of approximately $400,000 and a staff of five.

(January, 1987-March, 1993)

• Director of Assessment, Winchester, Massachusetts. Administered computer assisted valuation programs, managed maintenance and valuation of 7,500 parcels of real property. As department head, I was responsible for a budget of approximately $250,000 and a staff of five. (April, 1983-January, 1987)

• Project Manager, 1M. Cleminshaw Company. Directed community wide revaluation projects in Massachusetts cities and towns. Commercial I Industrial Appraiser, Responsible for the appraisal of commercial and industrial properties in several Massachusetts cities. (September, 1980-April, 1983)

• Member, Arlington Board of Assessors. (April, 1993-Present)

Professional Designations and Affiliations:

• Massachusetts Certified General Real Estate Appraiser

• Accredited Assessor, Massachusetts Association of Assessing Officers
• Massachusetts Real Estate Broker
• Licensed Massachusetts Construction Supervisor
• Member, Massachusetts Association of Assessing Officers

Educational Background:

• Numerous professional courses, International Association of Assessing Officers, Massachusetts Board of Real Estate Appraisers, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

• University of Massachusetts, Boston - Undergraduate Courses


• Qualified as Expert Witness, Massachusetts Appellate Tax Board

• Former National Instructor, International Association of Assessing
• Former Chairman, Commercial/Industrial Sales Data Base Committee, Massachusetts Association of Assessing Officers
• Past President - Middlesex County Assessors Association
• Panelist on numerous Appraisal/Taxation Seminars including: Electric Deregulation, Brownfields, Property Taxation

Jean-Paul Plouffe, MAA

Director of Assessments - Town of Arlington

1977 Middlesex Community College-- Bedford, Massachusetts -- Associates Degree in Law Enforcement

1999 Massachusetts Accredited Assessor Recertified 3/21/2014

Continued various courses and seminars through the Massachusetts Association of Assessing Officers for certification and continued courses for certification as a Massachusetts Licensed Residential Real Estate Appraiser

2004 Massachusetts Board of Real Estate Appraisers =Dedham, Massachusetts
Practical Residential Appraising course completed
2004 JMB Real Estate Academy - Chelmsford, Massachusetts
Uniform Standards of Appraisal Practice Update- completed
2001 Massachusetts Association of Assessing Officers =Littleton, Massachusetts
Course 5 - Mass Appraisal for Ad Valoram Taxation- course completed for recertification
2000 Massachusetts Board of Real Estate Appraisers - Dedham, Massachusetts
Appraising the Single Family Residence- course completed
1998 Massachusetts Association of Assessing Officers -- East Bridgewater, Massachusetts
Introduction to Assessing -" course completed
CAMA Training -- New Assessment Cycle; advanced IQ Report Writing Skills; Introduction to Land Value

Massachusetts Association of Assessing Officers --South borough, Massachusetts
Course 200 - Principles of Assessing Procedures: Course 1 - Comparable Sales Approach to Value Course 2 - Cost Approach to Value: Course 3 - Income Approach to Value: Courses completed Massachusetts Department of Revenue Course 101 -- North Andover, Massachusetts
Assessment Administration: Law, Procedures, Valuation: Classification Training Workshop-. completed
Massachusetts Board of Real Estate Appraisers -- Topsfield, Massachusetts
Real Estate Appraisal I--course completed

July 1997-1999

Middlesex County Assessors Association

Middlesex County Assessors Association past president 2009-2010

Massachusetts Licensed Real Estate Appraiser, Expires 03/2112015

Property Valuation Understanding and Experience, Managing Assessors’ Office -

Westford Assessors Office - 55 Main Street, Westford, Massachusetts 01886 -- Telephone: 978-692-5504

Principal Assessor ~ Responsible for the valuation of all real and personal property for the Town of Westford consisting of approximately 8822 parcels and 700 taxable person al property accounts, Oversee a staff of 3 (I Assistant Assessor and 2 clerks), Answer to and advises the Board of Assessors in matters of exemptions, abatements, chapter land, and interoffice functions, Responsible for the annual RECAP with the Finance Director and team; and Classification Hearing. Responsible for all interim annual adjustments and certifications, Responsible for defending town's value in Appellate Tax Board appeals.

Administrative Assessor - Town of Westford - Assisting the Principal Assessor in Real and Personal Property valuation, abatements, exemptions, inspection of properties, and Appellate Tax Board cases. Maintaining records, maps, deeds, and sales data. I have updated office procedures for Motor Vehicle Abatements; implemented procedures with the Building Department to insure full inspections on all new construction; instituted policies for abatement procedures when property owners file an abatement application; and updating Chapter 61A application so that they are in conformance to the M.G,L,

West Newbury Assessors Office -- 381 Main Street, West Newbury, Massachusetts 01985 -- Telephone: 978-363-1100

Assistant Assessor/Clerk -- Assisting the Chief Assessor in Real and Personal Property valuation, abatements, and exemptions. Maintaining maps, records, sales spreadsheet, deeds, motor vehicles bills and abatements. Other responsibilities include: List and Measure of Properties - Assisting in Abatement Reports - Building Permit Inspections.



A Position in Assessment Administration

Professional Experience

Town of Natick, Massachusetts

2013-current Treasurer/Collector In charge of the collection and investment of over

$135 million of annual revenue. City of Alexandria, Virginia
2011- 2012 Director of the Department of Real Estate Assessments Oversee the annual valuation of 47,000 parcels valued at over $32 billion. The department received the International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO) Certificate of Excellence in Assessment Administration (CEAA) award. Alexandria is one of only 19 assessments jurisdiction in all of North America that have attained this prestigious designation. Nassau County, New York
2008-2010 County Assessor
Served as the first "appointed" professional Assessor in Nassau County. Oversee a department with 300 employees and a budget of$21.6 million. The county has 1.4 million residents, 418,000 parcels with a total value of $309 billion, and a total tax levy of $5.3 billion.

City of South Portland, South Portland, Maine

2006-2007 City Manager

Chief Executive Officer of the third largest city in the state with over 470 municipal employees and an annual budget of $79 mi Ilion. Obtained the full bipartisan commitment of the Maine delegation for a $500,000 earmark of federal funds for a major transportation project. Reorganized the Assessor's Office to ensure the annual update of property values.
City of Worcester, Worcester, Massachusetts

2005-2006 Assistant City Manager/COO

Served as the Chief Operating Officer and second-in-command a city with a municipal workforce of2,000 employees. Coordinated inter-departmental and legislative initiatives.

Greater Boston Real Estate Board, Boston, Massachusetts

2004-2005 President and CEO

Served as the Chief Executive Officer of a trade association for the real estate industry. Lobbied the state legislature, the Mayor of Boston, the Boston City Council, and the congressional delegation.

City of Portsmouth, Portsmouth, New Hampshire

1992-2004 Deputy City Manager/CFO

Oversaw the information technology and financial management departments (Finance, Accounting, Assessing, Tax Collection, and Audit Departments). Ensured the successful completion of the city's first revaluation in 15 years and implemented a system to update property values annually.

City of Boston, Boston, Massachusetts

1984-1992 Commissioner of Assessing

Managed the City of Boston Assessing Department, served as a senior policy advisor to the Mayor, and oversaw the City's fiscal initiatives in the state legislature. Oversaw the first (and politically charged) revaluation in the city in 38 years. The department won state and national public information awards. Instituted a city-wide GIS program.

Jankowski Associates, Boston, Massachusetts


1980-current Principal in a part-time on occasion full-time) assessment administration consulting practice. Provided consulting services nationally and internationally in the areas of mass appraisal, property valuation, and assessment administration.


City of Newton, Newton, Massachusetts


1978-1980 Assessor/Assistant to the Mayor for Fiscal Affairs Successfully planned and implemented city's first revaluation in over 30 years. Advised the Mayor and represented the city on state and federal intergovernmental fiscal issues.


Town of Oxford, Oxford, Massachusetts


1977-1978 Chairman of the Board of Assessors
Organized and completed the town's first revaluation in less than one year. City of Worcester, Worcester, Massachusetts


1975-1977 Assistant Assessor
Implemented a computer assisted mass appraisal (CAMA) system. Supervised the work of 8 data collectors.


Major Awards/Recent Appointments


Certificate of Excellence in Assessment Administration (CEAA): Awarded by the International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO) in 2012. Analogous to the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting Program (CAFR), the CEAA program was instituted in 2004 to raise the standard of "best practices" in assessment administration. Alexandria is one of only 19 assessments jurisdictions in all of North America that have attained this prestigious designation 2004-2006 Inspectional Services Department Management Review Commission: Appointed by the Mayor of Boston to recommend management improvements for a major city planning and regulatory agency and to oversee their full implementation in 2006.


The World Bank's 1999 Award for Excellence: bestowed for a decade of contributions to the Thailand Land Titling Project, which is widely recognized as the international model for successful land titling and land valuation projects.
National Center of Public Productivity Award: awarded by Rutgers University in 1992 for originating a nationally recognized payment in lieu of tax program for tax exempt institutions that annually generated over $17 mi Ilion in revenue for the City of Boston.


Public Information Award: Awarded by the IAAO to assessment jurisdictions that have developed and implemented an effective system for the dissemination to taxpayers of information about the assessment process. The department received the award in both 1987 and 1991.


Certifications/Professional Associations


Northern Virginia's Representative to the Virginia Association of Assessing Officers Legislative Committee.
Commonwealth of Virginia Certified Assessor State of New York Certified County Assessor Massachusetts Accredited Assessor (currently inactive)
20 plus year member of the International Association of Assessing Officers (IAAO)
First President of the Massachusetts Chapter of the IAAO


«Massachusetts Property Revaluation: Taxpayers Rights and Procedures,"
Thaddeus J. Jankowski, Jr., Douglas E. Franklin, and Raymond G. Torto: Butterworth
Publishers, 1986, 165 pgs.


Boston College, Bachelor of Science

June 28, 2014: Secrecy alleged in director resignation

This story was published Monday, July 21, 2014, and updated the next day.

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