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Town of Lenox, MA

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Office:
380 Great Road
Stow, MA 01775  Phone:    (978) 897-4597
FAX:    (978) 897-4534
Email:   
 
        Meeting Schedule:  
Bi-weekly - Varies
       Office Hours: M - F 9 am - 5 pm

Who are we and what do we do?

The assessors in Stow are an elected board required to value all property in their community annually at full and fair cash value (market value) as outlined in Chap. 59 of the Massachusetts General Laws. The goal of assessors is to provide equity in assessing, thereby providing tax equity. For real estate and personal property, the Department of Revenue is charged, by statute, with the responsibility of certifying, every three years, that the assessors are complying with the statutes and that they do it fairly and equitably.

The market value of residential properties is determined by using valid sales of similar properties from the year preceding January first, the assessment date.

All new construction is assessed as of the January 1 assessment date. Additionally, Stow has accepted Chapter 59 S. 2D that provides for a pro rata supplemental tax on new construction if the parcel value has increased by more than 50%, as of the occupancy permit date. A pro forma assessment may apply for the following fiscal year as well. In addition, taxes must be abated if a property loses more than 50% of its value due to fire or natural disaster.

The market value of Commercial and Industrial properties is determined generally by using the income approach. This is due to the fact that, there are few market sales on which to base the value, and because when a rental property is sold, the price is usually based on income generated by the property.

When the values are finalized, the assessors set the tax rate by dividing the levy (amount of tax authorized) by the total taxable value. The Bureau of Accounts must approve the tax rate prior to the sending of tax bills.

Shortly before values are considered final, the new values for all property are printed in the Beacon-Villager. This generally occurs in mid-September. The taxpayer may review his/her property record card to check for errors or to ask questions about the market value. These matters should be discussed with the assessor or staff. If the taxpayer remains aggrieved after the discussion, an abatement application may be filed with the Board of Assessors by February 1, either in person or by mail to the Assessors (postmarked by Feb 1). If bills are mailed after January 1, unless approved by the DOR, the deadline for filing is thirty days from the date of mailing. If an abatement form is received after the deadline, the assessors have no authority to abate the bill, even when there is an error. However, the error will be corrected for the following fiscal year.

The assessors have three months to review the application and decide whether abatement is justified or warranted. When the decision is made, a notice is mailed to the taxpayer within ten days of that decision.

If the taxpayer is still aggrieved, they may file at the Appellate Tax Board (ATB) in Boston. Call for the appropriate forms at telephone # 1-617-727-3100. Once an ATB appeal has been filed, the Assessors again have the ability to negotiate a settlement with the taxpayer. If all attempts at negotiation fail, an ATB hearing is held to determine the full and fair cash value of the parcel. At least three comparable sales of properties or comparable assessments are needed in order to demonstrate an inequitable assessment.

The Assessors provide information to the Board of Selectmen and Town Administrator regarding new growth, excess levy capacity, and classification of real property. The Assessors also provide data to all municipal departments as requested and provide the taxable property list for billing purposes.

The zoning and parcel maps are maintained annually showing changes regarding sub-divisions, lot splits, and lot line changes. Certified Abutters' Lists required for various applications are available for a fee. You may download the application on this site.

The Assessors are also responsible for the commitment of motor vehicle excise tax. If you no longer have a car and have turned in the plate, you may qualify for abatement. Applications are available at the Assessors' office or on-line from the State.

The Assessors hold responsibility for administration of the Community Preservation Act (CPA) surcharge, which is added to the real estate tax bill. If your income level falls under certain levels, you may qualify for an exemption from CPA. You may download an application from this site.

Statutory exemptions are also processed by the Assessors' office. Qualifying factors may be discussed by calling or visiting the Assessors' office. You may download an application from this site.

Staff
Dorothy K. Wilbur, MAA       Assistant Assessor
Louise Nejad                       Administrative Assistant
        Board Members   Term
       John Paul Bolton (Chair)        2006
       John E. Smith   2005
       Walter L. Schwall       2007
               
        Documents
       Application for Abatement of Real or Personal Prop
       Application for Certified Abutters List
       Application for Community Preservation Act Tax Exemption
       Application for Statutory Exemption
       Motor Vehicle Application for Abatement

 
Lenox Town Hall  6 Walker Street, Lenox, MA 01240   PH: (413) 637-5500