WEST STEWARTSTOWN – The Coos County Commissioners have voted to award the valuation appraisal contract for the Granite Reliable Power wind farm to George E. Sansoucy LLC of Lancaster.
The county is locked in a legal battle with the state Department of Revenue Administration over the valuation of the wind farm components in the unincorporated places of Millsfield and Dixville. The DRA has appraised the wind farm in Dixville and Millsfield at $211 million. The county has argued it negotiated a payment –in-lieu-of-taxes agreed with GRA based on a valuation of $113 million provided by a DRA official in 2007. The case has been accepted by the state Supreme Court.
In an Oct. 17 meeting that grew heated at times, the commissioners split over awarding the contract to Sansoucy. Commissioners Tom Brady and Paul Grenier voted to accept Sansoucy’s bid of $25,000 to do a full valuation for 2013 and a summary valuation for 2014. Commissioner Rick Samson wanted to award the contract to MR Valuation, of Colts Neck, N.J., even though he acknowledged the firm’s bid of $58,000 was considerably higher than Sansoucy’s bid.
Samson said he had done a lot of research and spoke to town officials in Milford who last year selected MRV over Sansoucy. He said he also submitted a list of questions to MRV that the company answered.
Samson said MRV has appraised a dozen wind farms and worked for both utilities and municipalities. While Sansoucy has experience assessing utility property, Samson said his firm has not appraised a wind farm. He urged the commission to go with the MRV based on its experience.
Commission Chair Tom Brady said he also reviewed the proposals and favored awarding the bid to Sansoucy.
Grenier said Sansoucy has done a lot of work for municipalities and is a licensed assessor in New Hampshire. He said the cost of the appraisal as well as legal fees for the court battle must be covered by the budgets of the two unincorporated places. Grenier said he did not want to bankrupt Dixville and Millsfield to pay an extra $33,000 for the appraisal.
Grenier noted he had originally moved to award the contact to Sansoucy at the Oct. 9 meeting but the two commissioners asked for more time to review the proposals. He again made a motion to award the bid to Sansoucy.
Charging Grenier has a close relationship with Sansoucy, Samson requested the Berlin mayor recuse himself from voting. Grenier refused, saying his relationship with Sansoucy is a business relationship. He said Sansoucy has done extensive work as an assessing consultant for Berlin. He said Sansoucy does a very good job for the city and is quick and concise.
Brady called for a vote and the motion passed.
Samson then requested the commissioners returned the handouts he had distributed of his research and attempted to grab the papers out of Brady’s hand. Brady responded that the papers had been distributed at a public meeting and thus became part of the public record under the state’s Right-to-Know law. Brady also warned Samson not to grab papers from his hand again and Samson apologized.
But the commissioners clashed several other times during the meeting. Samson complained that he had a hard time getting items on the agenda. Brady told him to contact County Administrator Jennifer Fish with agenda items and she will forward them to him. Commissioners cannot discuss county business outside of a public meeting. Samson said he wants to put the appointment of an alternate planning board member on the agenda. Brady said it will be added to the Nov 13 agenda.
Samson alleged one of the commissioners was overheard telling planning board chairman John Scarinza at the June meeting that the planning board nominations “were under control”. Brady ruled Samson out of order and said he was not going to listen to hearsay.
Samson questioned why the June meeting was rescheduled to accommodate Grenier’s vacation without contacting him. Brady reminded Samson that the issue had been discussed at the May meeting.
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