Former Middleborough Assessor Jacob Kulian Fined $10,215 for Repeatedly Reducing His Own Property Taxes
Kulian pays $8,000 penalty to Ethics Commission, $2,215 reimbursement to Middleborough
According to the Disposition Agreement, Kulian was an elected Assessor between 1995 and April 2004. During that time, Kulian:
- directed the Assessor-Appraiser, an employee of the Board of Assessors, to reduce his property assessment in 1997 and 2000 resulting in reductions to his property tax bill totaling $1,401;
- participated in granting himself a tax abatement in 2004 resulting in a reduction to his property tax bill of $814; and
- participated in granting himself a statutory exemption based on age and income eligibility that could have resulted in a tax abatement of $500.
Section 23(b)(2) of the conflict law prohibits a public employee from using or attempting to use his position to secure for himself or others an unwarranted privilege of substantial value not properly available to similarly situated individuals. By directing the Assessor-Appraiser to reduce his property assessment, Kulian repeatedly used his position to get such an unwarranted privilege. Section 19 prohibits a municipal employee from officially participating in matters in which he has a financial interest. By repeatedly participating in matters involving reductions in his property tax, Kulian participated in matters in which he had a financial interest.
"An assessor is entrusted with a fiduciary responsibility that affects the personal finances of almost everyone in town," said Executive Director Peter Sturges. "An assessor who uses his position to reduce his own property taxes breeches that trust in the very area that he is expected to act objectively. Such action warrants a maximum fine and full restitution."