Assessors are the chief tax officials in the community. They administer tax policies established at the State level by Legislators and at the local level by Mayors in cities and Boards of Selectmen in towns such as Longmeadow. Assessors are primarily responsible for discovering, listing and valuing real and personal property in the community. They keep track of changes in ownership and sale prices from deed transfers that are sent from the Hampden County Registry of Deeds. (www.hampdendeeds.com). Physical changes to improvements are inspected as permits are received from the building department. Interior and/or exterior inspections are conducted to determine if these changes have an impact on the value of the property. The Assessors meet to vote on abatement and exemption applications, review changes in the tax laws and oversee the general conduct of the office.
Assessors’ policies are based on state laws. The Department of Revenue’s legal staff provides guidance to Assessors to properly interpret state statutes. These statutes pertain to required dates and deadlines for filing for abatements and exemptions, income and asset requirements for various exemptions, etc.
In addition to the Assessors valuing property they act as an intermediary to process motor vehicle excise. The value of all real and personal property, motor vehicles and trailers are used to arrive at taxable amounts (known as the commitment) that are forwarded to the T a x Collector for billing and collection. Excise values are determined at the State level (Registry of Motor Vehicles www.mass.gov/rmv) and sent to the individual cities and towns. Motor Vehicle Excise tax is one of the few sources of revenue that remains at the local level (it does not have to be sent to the state for redistribution).