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Morris assessor fired for losing $250,000; lawyer claims discrimination against women in town hall

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MORRIS — Town officials said the tax assessor was fired Wednesday after an investigation revealed she undervalued over $3 million in properties, depriving the town of a quarter million dollars in tax revenue. The Board of Selectmen said they terminated Michelle DaSilva immediately after a meeting Wednesday.

Officials said a three-month-long investigation revealed twenty properties in town were categorized wrong.

“In some instances, the Assessor failed to assess occupied houses and structures even though they were being lived in, instead just assessing the land only,” a town statement said.

The board said that more than $3.5 million was missing from the town’s grand list and as a result the town lost at least $250,000 in tax revenue.

Concerns regarding the assessments in Morris have been raised in the past, according to the selectmen. Multiple letters to the former First Selectman outlining assessment errors that were not acted upon.

Attorney Eric R. Brown, who represents DaSilva, released a statement Thursday morning:

“Today’s hearing revealed that the Town of Morris has no systems in place to ensure that the assessor is made aware of the issuance of building permits and certificates of occupancy. Over the last several years, Michelle DaSilva has been responsible for assessing over 1400 residential properties. In that time her hours have been cut to just 15 a week and she has been denied an assistant despite multiple requests. When the current board of selectmen took office, they cut off Michelle’s remote access to her computer so that she could no longer get work done from home after hours. The sham hearing today was politically motivated and an effort by the the new leadership team in town hall to continue its systematic attack against female employees and union activists. The investigation of Michelle was started just days after she reported that the First Selectman was caught eavesdropping on workers by lurking in bushes outside of their office windows, earning him the nickname, ‘peeping Tom.’ Since taking office in November, multiple female employees have been forced from their positions in town hall. Today Michelle was just the most recent targeted female.”