REPORT OF THE COLLECTOR
INTRODUCTION - As of January 1, 2001, I have been Ashbys Collector for about eight months and, before that, worked as the Collectors Clerk for almost five years.
THANK YOU - As Ashbys new Collector, I thank all the people who have helped simplify my job the people I work with and the taxpayers who pay their taxes on time.
An enormous "Thank You" is given to former Collector, Peggy Van Hillo, for all the work she did on Ashbys tax collections up to the point when I took over the office. In the beginning of her first term, she worked very hard (with Dondi LaRue and Mike McCallum) to correct problems she inherited. In part, by computerizing and barcoding the process and obtaining Deputy Collector and Tax Title services, Peggy (with the help of many volunteers) was responsible for beginning the process of correcting Ashbys delinquent tax problems. I would not have taken out nomination papers for Collector, were it not for Peggys efforts.
The Collectors office is entirely dependent on the actions of the Board of Assessors regarding the prompt mailing of the first half real estate and personal property bills. I sincerely thank them and Ashbys Regional Assessor, Harald Scheid, for all their work which allowed the tax rate to be set in time for the tax bills to be mailed out on October 2, 2000, the earliest date possible.
After recently reading in the newspaper of the passing of former Collector, Louis Sears, I express my sincere thanks for all the dedicated years he spent in the service of Ashby.
SCHOOLING - In August, in order to more clearly understand the requirements of being Ashbys Collector, I attended four days of classes at the Massachusetts Collectors and Treasurers Association (MCTA) 30th Annual School held at the Campus Center of the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, MA. Classes included Duties & Responsibilities, Tax Collections, Motor Vehicle Excise, Tax Takings, Municipal Lien Certificates and information regarding Municipal Law and the Property Tax Bureau. In September, I attended one day of MCTA classes in Auburn, MA to learn the basics of Deferrals, Tax Title, Exemptions & Abatements, Bankruptcies and Litigation, Postal services and how to deal with difficult taxpayers. In November, I attended a POINT Software User Group Meeting in Hampden, MA to discuss software enhancements, problems and issues with POINT and other Collectors and Treasurers.
GOALS - One of my goals has been to close out as many of the Collectors Commitment books for past years as I possibly can. I am getting closer, but time and resources may likely hinder closing some of the books during this fiscal year since they require additional legal and/or other research. Other goals are to print and mail the tax bills promptly and to turn all payments over to the Treasurer as quickly as possible.
MOTOR VEHICLE ABATEMENTS & REFUNDS - If you want to apply for an abatement of a Motor Vehicle Excise bill, contact the Assessors office. Please do not ignore an excise bill you receive for a vehicle you no longer own. This excise bill will not go away, it must be abated or paid. If unpaid, it will be marked at the Registry of Motor Vehicles eventually preventing the renewal of your registration and license.
YOU DID NOT RECEIVE A BILL - I am occasionally told by taxpayers that they did not receive their tax bill in the mail. The Collectors office mails all tax bills to the recorded owner at the address supplied by the Assessors or the Registry of Motor Vehicles. It is important for everyone to know, even if a bill was not mailed, according to MGL Chapter 60, Section 3: "An omission to send a tax bill will not affect the validity of a tax or the proceedings for its collection".
For Motor Vehicle Excise bills, if the mailing address is incorrect, state law requires you to inform the Registry of Motor Vehicles of the changed address within 30 days.
DELINQUENT REAL ESTATE TAXES - The Collectors office has been quite successful in collecting real estate, personal property and motor vehicle delinquent taxes by using Courtesy Notices, Warrants and Tax Title. Results for the last calendar year are reflected in the accompanying chart.
The delinquent real estate taxes recently pursued through the mailing of courtesy letters resulted in many taxpayers making payments, a few taxpayers providing proof of payment, and many properties being prepared for Tax Title.
Eventually, the mailing of Courtesy Letters, issuing Warrants, and pursuing Tax Taking will result in nearly all the Collectors delinquent accounts being cleared from the real estate and personal property Commitment Books.
TAX TITLE (TAX TAKING) - The Tax Taking of real estate places a recorded lien on the property and transfers the tax, the 14% Collectors interest, and any fees due the Collector to the care of the Treasurer who then must charge interest at 16% on the total debt.
By Massachusetts General Law, if real estate taxes are not paid by the due date of a Demand bill, most Collectors in Massachusetts initiate a Tax Title (or Tax Taking) on the property. Placing property in Tax Title is the first step taken to foreclose on properties with delinquent taxes.
At this time, I am preparing nearly thirty pieces of property for Tax Title. If all goes as planned, the next Tax Taking, after being advertised in a local newspaper, will occur on Wednesday, May 2, 2001.
DELINQUENT PERSONAL PROPERTY AND MOTOR VEHICLE TAXES - The delinquent personal property taxes that have been paid were resolved using Courtesy Letters and Warrants similar to those used to collect overdue motor vehicle taxes.
During the past year, over $3,200.00 in 1986 through 1995 motor vehicle taxes were collected. The remaining delinquent Motor Vehicle taxes require more research. This year, I will try to resolve the remaining delinquent motor vehicle taxes from 1986 through 1995 by mailing Courtesy Notices informing these taxpayers of the need for them to resolve these unpaid excise taxes. Of those that fail to respond, the Department of Revenue (DOR) may suggest other courses of action or they may allow me to pursue the outstanding taxes by initiating Small Claims or other court action (MGL Chapter 60 Section 29).
CONCLUSION - This is the first year since the 1991 Annual Town Report that the December 31st uncollected tax amounts have been presented. Since Peggy Van Hillo took office, she informed the residents of the annual status of the Collectors office. The town reports beginning with 1992 through 1999 were explanations of the status of the Collectors office.
With the assistance of the Department of Local Services (DOR), our past Accountant Marge Tavares and others, I am able to present a listing of the amounts to be collected, the amounts collected, and the uncollected amounts for the year 2000 in this report.
The following 1974 through 1991 data is from those annual town reports.
2000 $ 200,315.16
1991 $ 557,474.68 1985 $ 897,391.22 1979 $ 594,935.74
1990 $ 448,212.34 1884 $ 782,405.21 1978 $ 453,084.13
1989 $ 358,088.86 1983 $ 137,943.19 1977 $ 417,611.17
1988 $ 286,892.76 1982 $ 159,599.10 1976 $ 290,244.01
1987 $1,355,394.63 1981 $ 520,715.37 1975 $ 300,100.56
1986 $ 904,758.68 1980 $ 696,292.54 1974 $ 354,223.44
Lee Mikkola, Collector