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Saugus clerk earns assessor certification

SAUGUS – After a six-year challenge of courses, state tests and an internship, Meredith Stone is a licensed and accredited assessor in Massachusetts.Deputy Assessor Ronald Keohan announced Thursday at Town Hall that Stone has successfully completed all course requirements and testing to receive her designation as a Massachusetts Accredited Assessor.”It took me six years to get it. In addition to the tests and the courses, some of which come up only once a year, I had to work 18 months as assistant to the assessor,” said Stone, who joined the Saugus assessor’s office seven years ago after working previously in the private sector. “Now the whole office, all three of us, are accredited assessors. I was the last person to get it.”Stone, a Lynnfield native who lives in Middleton, is also a paralegal, having earned those credentials at North Shore Community College and Endicott College. At Town Hall, her title is principal clerk in the assessor’s office. Tamara Sands is assistant assessor, having received her designation as a certified state assessor last October.All three are members of the Massachusetts Accredited Assessors Organization (MAAO).Town Manager Andrew Bisignani said Stone’s accomplishments encourage all town employees to further their skills through education and training, whenever the opportunity is available. “This policy helps to provide the town with a more educated and professional workforce,” he said.Stone is now certified to perform the duties of a state assessor, which include applying the uniform administration of tax laws, discussing and advising on subjects pertaining to local taxation, encouraging the development of desirable tax laws, and promoting the public understanding of assessing.”We basically educate the public on current laws. People call or come in to ask for exemptions. They want to know if they are eligible, or they may have questions on their tax bills,” she said, noting Saugus does not contract out for property tax assessments as do many communities. “We have a gentleman who works with Ron as our data collector and with that we are able to do it ourselves.”According to Bisignani, the MAAO has developed an extensive and thorough program for this accreditation. “The various courses offer an in-depth training to those individuals who strive to obtain the knowledge and background that is required to perform the duties of an assessor in a professional and competent manner,” he said.

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