Vol. III No. 23 12/1/2022
Notes from Board of Assessors, November 17, Hybrid meeting
- Gary Pitney, Chair
- Doug Goudey
- Tom Stokes
- Michael Blay, Town Assessor
- Tammy Toupence, secretary
- Blay reported the following:
- The five-year RE-Val is complete and Stockbridge received final certification from Commonwealth as of November 14 (See Ed. Notes)
- Now the Tax Classification hearing can take place as required. It will be tonight (11/17) at 6:30. Tax Classification document prepared by Assessor attached
- As required by law, the tax rate will be set, and the following items will be considered by the SB at the Hearing:
- Single payer tax rate or split tax rate
- Exemptions considered: the Small Commercial Exemption (SCE), the Residential Tax Exemption (RTE) and Open Space Exemption.
- The Board of Assessors voted to recommend the single payer rate and voted against recommending RTE and SCE — Open Space non-applicable. The Chair added, no recommendation for RTE "this year"
- The "new growth" in Stockbridge was $9,110,425 — remarked as exceptional - $85,000 new tax dollars and increase in assessment of $150,000,000 therefore must keep tax rate low
- Tax rate set at $8.14 down from $9.38 last year. Assessor characterized it as "Biggest dip ever."
- Assessor said tax bills will be higher for some, unchanged for others and lower for some because the tax rate lowered so much. In light of exceptional increase in valuations, the rate was lowered more than ever before. Assessor predicted a "happy tax bill."
- Assessor said can't predict next year because this year Town had reserves "like free cash". If valuations continue to go up and there are "massive" capital projects with less cash reserves, cannot predict what would happen
- Berkshire Scenic Railway did not submit the answers to the Board's questions by deadline. They apologized and said it is almost done. Board cannot consider the requested tax-exempt status yet. It will not be in time for tax bills but if they are granted tax exempt status then they can request tax abatement
Editor's notes: 1. Massachusetts law requires that all property be assessed annually at 100% of its full and fair cash value — the price a willing buyer would pay - and that reevaluation and recertification take place every five years in all MA communities. 2. Single payer — all properties pay the same tax rate; split rate — commercial and residential properties pay different rates 3. SCE and RTE are both tax shifts — SCE shifts some tax burden from residential to commercial properties by assigning different rate; RTE shifts some of the tax burden from primary to second homeowners NOT by assigning different rates but by reducing a % of the assessment. Both must be considered every year (thus the Chair added "this year")
Stockbridge Bowl. Photo: Lionel Delevingne