Board of Assessors
During calendar year 2006 the Board of Assessors processed abatements generated from the FY06 Interim Year Adjustment and developed the State-mandated Interim Year Adjustment for FY07. The Board met at least once a week for most of the year.
The FY06 Interim Year Adjustment resulted in 126 abatement applications in 2006, of which about 50% were granted in whole or in part.
The Board welcomed new member William Bruce MacAlpine in June. He replaced Walter Miller who has now twice served with distinction. After consultation with the Town Manager and the Board of Selectmen, the position of Associate Member was established, and Robert Menger was appointed.
Interim Year Adjustment
The major objective of an Interim Year Adjustment is to modify the various coefficients used in the mass appraisal calculation of assessed value for properties, as indicated by the sales data. State law requires that the median Assessment-to-Sales Ratios for the various categories fall within certain parameters: the overall median must be within plus or minus ten percent of 100% full and fair market value; and the variances from the median for the subcategories within the sales stratifications must be within plus or minus five percent. For FY07 these variances were within plus or minus three percent of the Town-wide median. The Board believes that taxpayer confidence in the accuracy of the Interim Year Adjustment is improved with the tighter limits. By using several iterations of the coefficients for the 136 qualified calendar year 2005 single-family sales, this objective was met. The overall median Assessment-to-Sales Ratio is 0.94 for Fiscal 2007. The Town's average single-family residence is valued at $922,372, and the median house is valued at $718,550. The Massachusetts Department of Revenue' Division of Local Services approved the interim year valuation on December 12, 2006.
The value of new construction increases the levy limit. New growth continued at the strong rate of 1.7 percent of the Town's valuation due not only to the continuing pace of new construction, additions and remodeling projects, but also to the completion of two large apartment complexes, Warner Woods and Newbury Court.
The Board of Assessors recommended to the Board of Selectmen that for FY07 they vote: to adopt a uniform tax rate, not to grant an Open Space Discount, not to adopt a Residential Exemption, and not to adopt a Small Commercial Exemption. Since FY 1998, the Board of Selectmen has adopted a uniform rate for Residential, Commercial, Industrial, and Personal Property classes of property. Pursuant to a public hearing held on December 4, 2006, the Selectmen voted in favor of each of the Board of Assessors' recommendations and adopted a uniform tax rate of $10.56 per thousand dollars of assessed value for FY 2007.
Tax exemptions are available by State statute to qualified homeowners who are either disabled veterans, elderly (subject to certain income and asset limits), or blind. The State reimburses the Town for certain specified amounts. In recent years, the Town has voted to accept optional State law to double the value of the exemptions, with the additional cost being borne fully by the Town. Exemptions granted for FY06 and the related State reimbursements are shown in the following table:
Agricultural, Recreational and Forest Land
State law provides for tax relief designed to encourage the continuation of certain types of land use. These classifications carry strict application requirements, State-set valuation methods, and statutory penalties and procedural requirements when land is withdrawn from such tax-favored status. The three categories of Chapter land are:
Chapter 61 - Forest Land - refers to land of at least 10 contiguous acres held in a wooded state and subject to a management plan certified by the State Forester. Such land is valued at no more than 10% of market value.
Chapter 61A - Agricultural Land - refers to land of at least 5 acres that is used to raise agricultural products to be sold on the market. The State establishes specific acreage valuations to be applied to such land.
Chapter 61B - Recreational Land - refers to land of at least 5 acres that is retained in substantially a natural, wild or landscaped condition designed to preserve wildlife and natural resources.