Town Assessor's Office Becoming More High Tech
The new town assessor is working hard on an online mapping tool that will save time and money for residents and public safety departments.
Christopher Wilcock has only been the Town Assessor since February, and he has already been working diligently on assessments, revaluations and a new online Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping tool.
The Assessor’s Office is responsible for revaluating properties yearly, as well as the once every three years State property certification audit. There are 11,600 parcels in the town, Wilcock said. The office also administers the motor vehicle excise tax and does house inspections and appraisals. Joanne Foley is the Assistant Assessor.
Wakefield resident Wilcock, 32, replaced long-time Assessor Jay Kelley who retired. Wilcock has worked in the field for 11 years, 4 as Assistant Assessor in Salem, MA, then seven years as Assistant Assessor in Weston before coming here.
Growing up in Salem, he said he was interested in computers and construction. It was that interest that helped him land the position as Assistant Assessor there. Describing it as an informal apprentice program, he said he was able to learn the operation and duties of the office. “I literally fell into it,” he explained.
Wilcock is certified with the State Assessors Board and has his appraiser’s license. In addition to his day job, he currently serves on the Wakefield Board of Assessors and the Middlesex Assessors Associate Board, both volunteer positions.
“My goal here is to provide the highest level of service, while saving time and money, he explained.
He said the GIS mapping tool will be useful for residents, fire, police departments and town offices. Wilcock described the project as his “niche.”
“It will be a joint tax assessors database, with attributes of the town,” he explained. Although some information will be private, potential home buyers will be able to easily access valuations, photos and other details.
Wilcock said they are still testing the site in-house with all the departments, but hopes to have a public site within a couple of months.
Transparancy, he believes, is a better experience for taxpayers, and that also applies to assessments.
“If a taxpayers is not happy with an assessment, I would start by explaining the assessment process to the property owner and how we come up with the assessed value. I might suggest a property inspection to verify assessment data. And if they are still not happy with the assessment I would explain the process for appealing the assessment.”
When on a day off, Wilcock said he enjoys spending time with his wife Catie and his five month old daughter Isabella. He also enjoys fishing, hiking, camping, snowmobiling, downhill skiing and bow hunting.
Wilcock is working toward a business degree, with a minor in technology in a joint program through Umass Lowell and Middlesex Community College.
The Assessor’s Office is located in the Town Hall Annex and is open Monday-Friday,7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The phone number is 978-640-4330 or check out the website.