Letter To The Editor: Claims Belmont Overtax Property Below $1 Million ‘Untrue And Misleading’ – Assessors

Photo: The Assessors before the Select Board (from left) Martin Millane, Robert Reardon and Charles Laverty III

Dear Editor:

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 RangeSales RatioCODNumber
Q1$674,000 to $975,0000.951.8935 Sales
Q2$980,000 to $1,202,0000.951.4835 Sales
Q3 $1,206,000 to $1,512,5000.951.2735 Sales
Q4$1,515,000 to $5,500,0000.951.2434 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.

New Rules For Wintertime Trash/Recycling Pickup

Photo: Not the way to leave your trash. (Boston.gov)

As wintertime ice and snow begins to pile up on sidewalks and roadways, the Highway Division of the Belmont Department of Public Works want to inform homeowners and businesses of some simple rules that will allow for efficient removal of trash and recycling over the next few months.

  • During the winter if there is snow and/or large snowbanks please park on one side of the road. This will allow the trash and recycling trucks to maneuver streets quickly and not become blocked. The DPW has called the Belmont Police to certain addresses to assist with on street parking.
  • Do not placed carts on snowbanks.
  • Carts must have lids closed and placed in front of snowbanks.
  • The trucks can’t reach the cart if it is on or behind the snowbank. The carts can be placed on the street in front of snowbanks after plowing has ended. This means carts should be set out the morning of pick-up before 7 a.m.
  • Do not leave carts out overnight during a snow storm.

Got questions? Call the DPW at 617-993-2680.

Belmont Business Owners Being Asked In Survey How To Stimulate Local Economy

Photo: Businesses in Belmont Center.

The Town of Belmont is sponsoring a survey conducted by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) to guide town policy and is asking for information about what changes Belmont business owners would change to stimulate the town’s economy, including their insights into how to create jobs, support business development, and strengthen the community as a whole.

We are currently distributing a town-wide business survey, which can be found at Belmont’s town website at www.belmont-ma.gov or directly on https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/BelmontBizSurvey.

All responses are optional, will be kept confidential, and will only be published in aggregate. The survey should take about 15 minutes to complete per business.

For more information, contact Raul Gonzalez, Economic Development Planner for MAPC, at 617-933-0722 or by e-mail at rgonzalez@mapc.org or Patrice Garvin, Town Administrator for the Town of Belmont, at 617-993-2610 or at pgarvin@belmont-ma.gov 

Thursday’s Nor’easter: School Delayed Two Hours, Parking Ban Starts At Midnight

Photo: Maybe not this much …

While the expected snow totals have been falling all night, the Town of Belmont isn’t taking any chances with the fourth potential Nor’easter in the past month. The town and school department have issued updates on possible closings and delays for Thursday, March 22:

  • There will be a two hour delayed opening for all Belmont Public Schools on Thursday.
  • There is a Snow Emergency Parking ban effective as of midnight Thursday until further notice. Vehicles must be off streets and out of municipal and school parking lots or they will be towed.
  • Trash and Recycling WILL be picked up Thursday as scheduled.
  • All town offices will open at  8 a.m. as scheduled.

Residents will be notified of any further changes based on updated weather conditions.

Please call 617-993-2698 with questions.

It’s Good to be Green: State Provides $250K in Energy Saving Grants

Photo: The Burbank school.

Kermit The Frog famously lamented “It’s not easy being green.”

But recently for the town of Belmont, being green is not just easy but pretty darn profitable.

Last month, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources Green Communities Division approved an award of $250,000 for four projects the town proposed in a “Green Communities Competitive Grant” application it submitted to the state last year.

List of projects being funded include;

• $92,499 for a boiler replacement at the Burbank Elementary School.

• $16,508 for retro-commissioning controls also at the Burbank Elementary.

• $92,481 for a boiler replacement at the Butler Elementary. 

• $48,512 for the weatherization of the Belmont Public Library.

The DOER reviewed Belmont’s grant application and determined these capital projects met the eligibility requirements of its “Competitive Grant” program, taking them off the rolls of the town’s Captial Budget Committee.

Belmont was named a Green Community at a State House ceremony in December 2014.

The Green Communities Division helps each of Massachusetts’ 351 cities and towns find clean energy solutions that reduce long-term energy costs through technical assistance and financial support to improve energy efficiency and increase the use of renewable energy in public buildings, facilities and schools.

We Give Up: Schools, Town, Library Closed For Thursday’s Nor’easter

Photo: School’s out for … Thursday!

Belmont has surrendered to tomorrow’s Nor’easter.

With approximately a foot of snow predicted to fall from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9, most of Belmont will be shut down for the day.

  • Belmont Public Schools will be closed due to the snow and associated events and sporting contests will be postpone or rescheduled.
  • Town government and other town offices will also be shut tight.
  • The Belmont Public Library has cancelled events for the day and will remain closed until Friday at 9 a.m.

But one scheduled event will take place: Thursday trash and recycling pickup is still “on.”

Belmont Officers, Town Agree to Contract … And Prepares For Another

Photo: Police Headquarters.

It took a while, but the town and the union representing the cops on the beat have OK’d a new agreement in which Belmont officers receive a wage increase with some concessions – including limited drug testing – on their part.

And in a few months, the two sides will be right back at the bargaining table for another three-year contract.

The Belmont Board of Selectmen voted Monday, Aug. 8 to approve a three-year deal – from July 2014 to June 2017 – between the 31 member Belmont Police Patrolmen’s Organization and the town. 

“We’re very happy with the agreement and [the union’s] negotiating team which settled on a very reasonable settlement,” said Belmont Human Resources Director Jessica Porter. 

The contract’s highlights include:

  • An annual two percent cost-of-living-adjustment which is consistent with other town/union contracts.
  • While not random testing, the union agreed to drug and alcohol testing “based upon reasonable suspicion.” 
  • Newly hired officers as of July 1, will see their health insurance contribution rate go up from 20 percent to 25 percent in exchange for a 25 cents an hour increase n hourly pay. 
  • The stipend for officers who have associates/bachelors/masters degrees in criminal justice is increased to $5,000/$9,500/$11,000 as long as the officers complete their degrees within three-and-a-half years for graduating from the Police Academy. 
  • The 12 patrolmen who have reached Master Patrolman status – based on ten years of experience, training, and performance appraisal – will see their differential from the base salary increase from 2 percent to 2.4 percent. 

Just after the agreement was signed, Porter said she’d begin the next set of contract negotiations for a three-year agreement soon as this new contract expires this coming June 30. Porter is hopeful the new “new” contract will take less time to negotiate and settle. 

“It should be a little smoother for a new contract as we have recently discussed everything that will be on the table,” said Porter.

Concord Under Construction For Next Five Days

Photo: The road work begins on Concord Avenue. 

The main thoroughfare from Cambridge and Belmont High School to Belmont Center and points west will be reduced to a single lane as the roadway undergoes much-needed repair and repaving, according to the town’s Office of Community Development.

Concord Avenue from the commuter rail bridge to Cottage Street (where the Underwood Pool is located) will become home to pavers and asphalt spreaders for the next five days – if the weather cooperates – as the roadway (known for its potholes and divots) is restored as part of the 2015 Pavement Management project.

Concord Avenue is one of 15 streets that are being repaired after the Belmont Board of Selectmen accepted a $1.99 million bid from E.H. Perkins Construction last month, according to OCD Director Glenn Clancy.