Photo: The Assessors before the Select Board (from left) Martin Millane, Robert Reardon and Charles Laverty III
The Town of Belmont Board of Assessors has recently received information being circulated by a group calling themselves the “Citizens for a Fiscally Responsible Belmont” in which it is claimed that the Fiscal Year 2020 Assessments overtax properties under $1,000,000 in assessed value and under tax higher-end properties. The information used to make these claims is untrue and misleading and does not adhere to the actual assessment process which is regulated, reviewed, audited, and approved by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue on an annual basis. The Board of Assessors has a long and exemplary record of fairly and equitably administering the Massachusetts General Laws to all taxpayers of Belmont.
Current assessments are historical which is a requirement of Massachusetts General Laws. The Fiscal Year 2020 (July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020) assessments are based on an effective date of 01/01/2019 based on sales information that occurred during the calendar year 2018. The effective date of assessment is based on the information on file in the assessing office based on inspections and reviews of every property in town. Therefore, the fiscal year 2020 assessed values are as of Jan. 1, 2019, and are do not reflect the value of a property today.
The report being circulated uses sales that have occurred in Calendar Years 2019 and 2020 compared against assessments that were based on 2018 sales. The activity in these years is the basis for the upcoming assessments in the Fiscal Year 2021 (effective this upcoming January) and Fiscal Year 2022. Additionally, the sales in the report show no adjustment for changes in the Belmont Market and there are no adjustments for changes made to the properties after Jan. 1, 2019 (permits and renovations).
The following table is from one of the many reports required and reviewed by the Department of Revenue to obtain certification.
|Fiscal Year 2020 Sales Ratios|
|Sale Range||Sales Ratio||COD||Number|
|Q1||$674,000 to $975,000||0.95||1.89||35 Sales|
|Q2||$980,000 to $1,202,000||0.95||1.48||35 Sales|
|Q3||$1,206,000 to $1,512,500||0.95||1.27||35 Sales|
|Q4||$1,515,000 to $5,500,000||0.95||1.24||34 Sales|
The sales are segmented into four quartiles by sales price. The next column, sales ratio, is the assessed value divided by the sales price, which results in the assessment level. The Commonwealth requires that assessments are within 90 percent to 110 percent of sales. All four quartiles are at 95 percent which infers that than assessments are at 95 percent of market value in Fiscal Year 2020. The COD column is a further statistical test known as Coefficient of Dispersion which weighs, in short, the quality of the data set. The Commonwealth requires that this be less the 10. The Belmont assessments are under 2. The last column is the number of sales analyzed in each quartile.
It is important to note that the Department of Revenue sets all guidelines and regulations for assessing in the Commonwealth. All communities are required to adhere to the same rules and procedures and Assessors are under oath to uphold these practices.
A full version of the report above, as well as other reports used in the Certification Process, are available on the Belmont Board of Assessors’ website.
The Belmont Board of Assessors
Robert Reardon; chair, Charles Laverty III; vice-chair, Martin Millane; secretary.