(413) 238-5577 (X104)
160 Huntington Road PO Box 135 Worthington, MA 01098
Assessor, Clerk of Board
Board of Assessors Meeting Schedule
Weekly meetings take place on Tuesdays at 6:30 PM
Phone messages left at 238-5577 Extension 104 will be returned
Duties & Responsibilities
In Massachusetts, the Assessors’ primary responsibility is to place a value on all of the real & personal property located within their municipality for purposes of taxation. In Worthington, this is accomplished with an elected, three-member Board of Assessors and the help of professional appraisers and consultants. The goal is to fairly and accurately assess all properties following the guidelines provided by the Department of Revenue acting through the Bureau of Local Assessment and to accurately maintain those values.
Every three years the town must undergo a complete revaluation of property. It begins with a plan of action that is submitted to the state. Once approved, the plan is overseen by members of the Bureau of Local Assessment to completion and after being reviewed, the new values are submitted to the Department of Revenue for their approval and certification. Public hearings are held to give taxpayers a chance to look over their new values and counter listings are made available as well as notifications that are sent in the mail to those residing out of town, before the tax rate is submitted and billing is sent out. In addition to the triennial revaluation, the Assessors must annually complete what is called an “interim adjustment” and electronically submit to the DOR, required forms and calculations, based on the sales of the prior year. All of this is done to assure that each taxpayer in the community pays his or her fair share of the cost of local government, no more and no less, in proportion to the amount of money the property is worth.
Valuation in Massachusetts is based on the full and fair market value of property. Also called “arms length value”, it is the amount that a willing buyer pays a willing seller neither of whom is under the compulsion to buy or sell and it is done on the open market.
In order to ensure equity throughout town, when the assessors first inspect each property to record specific features of the land and buildings, they must measure and list, record and analyze a great deal of information. This information is gathered through building permits, field reviews and cyclical inspections, as well as inspection requests by individual property owners. Many factors contribute to building value including but not limited to: size, type, quality and condition of construction; number of rooms, baths, fireplaces, type of heating systems and amenities. All of these types of data contribute to the valuation of the individual properties.
The Assessors do not create value. Rather, we have the legal responsibility to discover and accurately reflect the changes that are occurring in the market. And, because we are not professional appraisers, we rely on our “professional” appraisal software and on our professional appraisal consultants when completing adjustments and revaluations. The assessed value of a property is specifically used for purposes of local taxation. It is determined by the Assessors according to Massachusetts law and regulations set by the Commissioner of Revenue.
The Assessors also have a responsibility for the motor vehicle excise tax bills that are originated by the State Department of Transportation through its Registry of Motor Vehicles. Billing generated by the Tax Collector using data provided by the RMV is committed back to her by the Assessors, who grant abatements and can answer questions regarding excise tax bills.
As Assessors, we have a major role in promoting effective financial management in our community. By maintaining values as close to full and fair market value as possible, and striving to maintain by accuracy and equity in assessments, we assist in maximizing the resources that are available to fund our town services that are expected by our residents. Property taxes are one of the major sources of funding for schools for our children, police and fire protection and the upkeep of our municipal roads, including the winter priority of snowplowing.
It should be remembered however, that the Assessors do not make the laws that affect local property owners. The Massachusetts Legislature enacts tax laws. The various guidelines and regulations that implement the legislation are established by the Department of Revenue. As assessors, we follow the procedures established by law to set the property values. Values are actually set by buyers and sellers, as they attempt to determine the comparable “worth” of their properties through transactions recorded at the Registries of Deeds. Finally, as we have often reminded you, please remember that the Assessors do not determine taxes. Taxes are determined by the majority of those town residents that attend town meetings, both the annual town meeting held in May and the special town meetings held as necessary throughout each year.
As always, we invite you to come to any of our meetings and look forward to answering your questions, as they may arise.