Salisbury Town Officials Change their Story on Cost of Sewer Project, Told Federal Judge Cost was $80M

Salisbury Selectman Freeman Condon
Salisbury Selectman Freeman Condon

By: Tom Duggan – November, 2013

Condon and Knowles now seem to be backing the Tomaselli sisters’ claim that the project cost was not $80M

On October 7, 2013 the Salisbury Board of Selectmen held a meeting where the “$80 Million Lie” was discussed.

The Tomaselli sisters of Salisbury have long contended that the total cost of a Salisbury sewer project was $18M and 100% grant funded but that town officials charged rate payers anyways.

Town officials, however, have changed their story twice; first telling the Appellate Tax Board and the Federal Court that the cost of the project was really $80M, to justify charging rate payers at $7.8M (or 10% of what they SAID was the total cost of the project). But later, they told the citizens of Salisbury that it was only an $18M sewer project.


Last month, The Valley Patriot ran a story from Town Manager Neil Harrington who said he was “outraged” that The Valley Patriot and the Tomaselli sisters were claiming the sewer project cost $80M, which was not their position, and is a direct contradiction to the testimony he gave in court through the DPW Director and the Town Council. 

At a Board of Selectmen meeting last month, Selectmen Condon said it was “absurdly false” for “anyone” to claim the cost of that project was $80M.

“That’s what we have been claiming all along,” said Joyce Tomaselli who fought the sewer charges saying the town lied in court. 

In other words, town officials first claimed in Federal Court and at the Appellate Tax Board that the cost of the project was $80M while they were trying to take the Tomaselli sister’s property, but now that their actions have been exposed, they are trying to confuse rate payers by saying the project did NOT cost $80M … which is what the Tomaselli sisters have been saying all along. . 

The Tomasellis say the rate payers were swindled out of “fake betterment charge” when the town officials lied in court about the cost of the project …. statements by Knowles, Condon and Harrington now seem to back the sister’s claim. 

Federal District Court Judge Patti B. Saris
Federal District Court Judge Patti B. Saris

Town Officials Told Federal Court Judge Saris, Cost of Sewer Project was $80 MIL

The Valley Patriot researched the Federal District Court Transcripts to compare the story being told now by Manager Harrington, and Selectmen Knowles and Condon … with what they said in 2009 about the actual cost of the sewer project. Did it cost $18M or did it cost $80M? 

The following is an excerpt of a conversation in Federal Court between Judge Saris and Salisbury Town Council Attorney Mcenaney. 

2/4/09 Transcript, United States District Court

TOWN COUNCIL – ATTY. MCENANEY: “I represented the town at the proceeding before the Appellate Tax Board on the appeal from the denial of their abatement application by the assessor and the DPW director. That case, a full hearing on the merits was held before the Appellate Tax Board. The Appellate Tax Board ruled in favor of the town. They have taken an Appeal.

JUDGE SARIS: Well, let me ask you this: How does one explain the difference between the $80 million and the $18 million? Are they just wrong?

ATTY. MCENANEY: I think they’re just wrong.

Judge Saris: Or was there a mistake made?

ATTY. MCENANEY: I believe that they’re wrong, yes. Furthermore the documents —

Judge Saris: Well, how do I know that? I mean, in other words, did the Appellate Tax Board rule that, that they made a mistake?

ATTY. MCENANEY: I don’t believe they addressed that specifically, but they found — they have a specific finding in their opinion that the testimony that was offered by the DPW director was credible in support of the decision. ….

JUDGE SARIS: But let me just ask you this. Maybe they should have discovered it, whatever, but are they right that it was $18 million and not $80 million?

ATTY. MCENANEY: My understanding based on the testimony of the DPW director, is the total project cost was $80 million. The local share was $7.8 million.”

Below is a transcript of Condon’s speech last month at a Board of Selectmen Meeting.

FREEMAN CONDON: I wish Tom [Saab] had stayed around because I wanted to ask him one thing and that was whether he had read the article before he forwarded it or forwarded the link. Because I believe that the manager’s response was measured and moderate, and I am in complete agreement with the way he handled it. The charges in the article were absurd, and if Tom had read it, he would have known it was absurd. So, he said that his fingerprints are not on it, he had nothing to do with it, but simply, sending the link to 400 people infers that there was some support for that.

When the manager, Mr. Harrington, said that some of the things were inaccurate and false, they were absurdly false. The project number was given at $80M, it is not even realistic.”

“The people were told in the article that the federal government paid for the whole project. You know that kind of thing had to be dealt with and it had to be repudiated, because they were totally false, and you can’t have people try to buy into things like that, that don’t have a single shred of basis in fact, so, I agree completely with Mr. Harrington’s response. And again, I thought it was most appropriate.

SELECTMAN FRED KNOWLES: I just will concur with Mr. Condon.

 Conclusion: If the Town charged rate payers $7.8M for a sewer betterment charge to pay 10% of a $80M sewer project that town manager Hrrington and the Board of Selectmen NOW say was only $18M,