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Fair cash value has been determined by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court as ”fair market value” which is the price an owner willing but not under compulsion to sell ought to receive from one willing but not under compulsion to buy. It means the highest price that a normal purchaser not under peculiar compulsion will pay at the time, and cannot exceed the sum that the owner after reasonable effort could obtain for this property. A valuation (price) limited to what the property is worth to the purchaser is not market value. The fair cash value is the value the property would have on January first or any taxable year in the hands of any owner, including the present owner. (Boston Gas Co. v. Assessors of Boston, 334 Mass. 549, 566 (1956).
Among the numerous factors to be considered that will cause values to differ are location, condition, size, quality, number of baths, basement, finished garages and many others.
The best evidence that could be considered would be a recent sale price of your property. The next best evidence would be recent sales prices of properties that are similar to yours. The close in similarity and proximity, the better the evidence.
Another type of evidence that could be considered would be recent appraisal of your property.
Bills may be paid:
Currently, payments cannot be taken over the phone.
Alerts for due dates of tax bills can be sent via email and SMS text by signing up on our Notify Me page. Please note that alerts are for the four quarters of Real Estate and the first commitment sent by the RMV for Excise tax.
Bills can always be viewed and paid online (Online Bill Pay) or by calling the Treasurer/Collector’s Office at 413-259-3020.
In Massachusetts a fiscal year is a 12-month period starting July 1 and ending June 30. All Real Estate Tax Bills encompass this time period. The year is identified by the year of the second six months: ie., July 1, 2019 to June 30, 2020 is called FY2020.
The current fiscal year is FY2024 (running from July 1, 2023 to June 30, 2024).
In Amherst, taxes are paid four times a year: August 1, November 1, February 1, and May 1. Bills are mailed twice each year—two “preliminary” bills (based on previous year’s tax bill) on, or before, June 30 with due dates of August 1 and November 1; and two “actual” bills (based on the new tax rate) on, or before, December 31 with due dates of February 1 and May 1. It is your responsibility to remember the second due dates for each mailing.
Massachusetts General Law states that the owner of record on the January 1st of the preceding fiscal year (1/1/20 for the tax year 7/1/20-6/30/21) must be billed for the tax. If you purchased your home on February 3, 2020, the bill would be addressed to the person who owned the property on January 1, 2020. However, you can have the bill addressed to you by notifying the Assessors’ office (413-259-3024) of your name and address. AS UNREASONABLE AS THIS SEEMS, YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE TAXES EVEN IF YOU DON’T GET A BILL.
Bills can always be viewed and paid online (Online Bill Pay).
Excise Tax is an annual state tax for all residents with a car registered in Massachusetts. Your place of garaging per your registration determines which town your bill is generated from. The tax is levied by the town and the revenues become a part of the town’s receipts. The Registry of Motor Vehicles generates the bills from registration information; values set by the Commissioner of Revenue based upon the manufacturer’s list price in the year of manufacture. The tax is $25.00 per one thousand dollars of valuation.
You are still responsible for the tax and late penalties even if you never receive the bill. These are state regulations, not policies set by the Town. Massachusetts law states you must file a change of address with the Registry of Motor Vehicles within 30 days. If the bill (generated by the Registry) has the wrong address and it is returned undeliverable, late fees are still added. You must aggressively look for your excise bill. AS UNREASONABLE AS THIS SEEMS, YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE TAXES EVEN IF YOU DON’T GET A BILL.
Please visit our Motor Vehicle Excise Tax page or call the Collector’s Office, 413-259-3020, for more information.
DO NOT IGNORE THE BILL. Please contact the Assessor’s Office at 413-259-3024 for information on filing an Abatement.
The Town of Amherst is broken into sections that are read and billed on a quarterly basis. Not everyone will receive a bill at the same time. Bills are due 30 days from the date of issue.
Residents who have water/sewer meters from the Town of Amherst are billed a minimum charge based on a usage of 3 (300 cubic ft).
Read the 1st 4 digits left to right. Your meter is typically located in your basement where the water comes in. It will be a Proread or Neptune meter. Visit our How to Read Your Water Meter page for more information.
Usually a final water reading is done when the property is sold and the bill is settled at closing. The account is then changed into the new owner’s name. Contact the Treasurer/Collector’s office if the address for the bill differs from the property address, 413-259-3020.
IF YOU ARE A LAWYER OR REALTOR AND REQUIRE A FINAL WATER READING, PLEASE CALL 413-259-3050, EXT. 0
The Town of Amherst does not establish accounts in tenant’s names. This policy is in place as any outstanding utility charges can be lien to the Actual Real Estate Tax Bill. All Utility Bills are ultimately the property owner’s responsibility.
This website outlines who pays for water and the criteria: www.masslegalhelp.org/housing.
The Town offers a Direct Debit program for residents to enroll in automatic bill paying through their bank account. There is no fee to enroll in this program, however, we recommend checking with your banking institute before signing up. Any bills due prior to enrollment must be paid conventionally and will not be taken via direct debit.
Please visit our Direct Debit Enrollment page to view the instructions for enrollment as well as our application for enrollment. If you have any questions, please reach out to our Treasurer/Collector office at 413-259-3020.
Students have a choice about where to register to vote. Students attending college may register at their campus address or choose to remain registered or register at their permanent or home address. You may only be registered to vote in one location.
Register Online: https://www.sec.state.ma.us/OVR/
Visit Amherst Town Clerk: 1st Floor Town Hall at 4 Boltwood Avenue in Downtown Amherst M-F 8:00 am - 4:30 pm - Map
By Mail: If you do not qualify to register to vote online, or if you would prefer to register by mail, you may download the voter registration form by using the link provided in the box to the right. The form must be completed, signed, and delivered to your local election official. Voter registration forms submitted by mail must be postmarked no later than the voter registration deadline.
In-person: Amherst Town Clerk's Office on 1st Floor of Town Hall at 4 Boltwood Avenue, Amherst MA. 01002 M-F 8:00 am - 4:30 pm - Map
Massachusetts’ paper voter registration form asks for your Massachusetts driver’s license or ID number, or the last four digits of your Social Security Number. Be sure to provide one of these numbers if you have it. To complete your voter registration online, you must have a Massachusetts-issued driver’s license or non-driver ID.
You need to present ID when voting in person, or mail a copy of your ID when voting by mail, if any of the following apply to you:
Acceptable forms of ID include a Massachusetts driver’s license or state ID card, recent utility bill, rent receipt, lease, copy of a voter registration affidavit, or any other printed identification that has your name and address. If you cannot show ID, you have the right to cast a provisional ballot.
Make a plan ahead of time. Confirm your voter registration status by visiting www.sec.state.ma.us/VoterRegistrationSearch/MyVoterRegStatus
Look up your polling location and hours at www.sec.state.ma.us/WhereDoIVoteMA
By Mail / Absentee
Registering to vote in Massachusetts makes you a resident for the purposes of your driver’s license and vehicle registration. If you drive your vehicle in Massachusetts, you have 30 days from when you register to vote to register your vehicle and get a Massachusetts driver’s license. For more information, contact the Massachusetts Department of Motor Vehicles.
You can reach the department on our office phone line, 413.259.3370. You can also reach us through the town dispatch system, which can either be reached through their main line at 413.259.3000, or by dialing 911. Or feel free to drop by the office at the Bangs Community Center, 70 Boltwood Walk, 2nd floor. Be sure to take the elevator up!
Non-violent emergency calls such as: wellness checks, mental health calls, non-violent school calls, non-trespassed vagrancy, community engagement, public safety assist, and citizen assist.
Responders can deploy either in a town vehicle or on foot.
We have eight responders, with four teams of two.
The vast majority of CRESS eligible calls occur roughly between 8am to 8pm Monday-Saturday, so this is where resources will be focused. It also helps with safety, as calls past midnight can potentially lead to increased safety issues.
CRESS currently only responds to calls within the Town of Amherst or calls relating to Amherst residents.
CRESS values safety above all else, and as a result follows closely with the Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP) Report and its section on “Responder Safety” on pages nine and ten.
Grey to be distinct from the Police Department and Fire Department, as well as serving as a metaphor for the work we do, which is historically in the grey area in public safety.
We are funded out of the Town of Amherst budget, as a full department under the public safety spending umbrella. We also receive state and federal grants to provide resources and expand our training programs.
CRESS is a fellow department under Public Safety, along with the Police Department, Fire Department, and Dispatch.
Responders have received training from the Wildflower Alliance in fields such as suicide and people who hear voices, as well as Motivational Interviewing, Situational Awareness, and CPR training from various instructors and experts.
Yes, a few similar programs and departments are: Durham, NC Community Response Teams (CRT), Denver, CO Support Team Assisted Response (STAR) Program, Eugene, OR CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets).
Construction and equipping of the new elementary school is estimated to cost a total of $99.2 million including the feasibility study. This figure derives from two independent cost estimators that each projected the cost of the new building and then met to reconcile any differences between their two estimates and arrived at a single cost estimate. The estimated cost of the project includes contingencies for future cost escalation.
Yes, the Town has been accepted into the selective Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) program and the MSBA is providing a maximum facility grant to the Town to reduce the cost to the Town, projected to be $40.5 million. The Town’s share of the cost of the new elementary school is projected to be $58.8 million before applying any other funding sources.
The Town has aggressively sought ways to reduce the impact of the project on taxpayers.
Early on, the square footage of the building was reduced by approximately 8,000 while still providing adequate space for all of the educational programs. This reduction is significant given estimated construction costs per square foot in the $800 range.
Next, the Elementary School Building Committee (ESBC) reviewed project costs and identified over $5 million of cost saving measures from the initial estimate.
The Town has partnered with Eversource to generate a maximum of $1.6 million of energy incentives/rebates and the Town Council has approved a Community Preservation Act grant in the amount of $700,000 to offset the cost of the fields.
Town officials worked with its State Legislators to advocate for an increase to the grant from the MSBA. These efforts resulted in over $3 million of additional grant funding.
Most recently on April 3, 2023; the Town Council voted to appropriate $5 million from its Capital Stabilization Fund to reduce the impact of the debt exclusion on tax payers.
Proposition 2 ½ refers to a Massachusetts law enacted in 1980 that limits the amount of property tax revenue a community can raise through real and personal property taxes. The amount actually raised is technically called the “Tax Levy.” The maximum amount a community can levy in any given year is called the “Levy Limit.” Proposition 2 ½ limits how much the Levy Limit can be increased from year to year.
Under Proposition 2 ½, a community’s levy limit increases annually by two factors:
1) an incremental increase of 2.5% of the prior year’s Levy Limit (hence the name “Proposition 2 ½”), and
2) a dollar amount derived from the value of new construction and other growth in the local tax base since the previous year, referred to as “New Growth.”
Notably, the restriction on raising taxes more than 2.5% is based upon the prior year’s Levy Limit, rather than on the prior year’s Tax Levy. Thus, if in a particular year the Town assesses taxes below the Levy Limit, the next year, the Levy Limit will still rise by 2.5% and new growth over the prior year. In that case, it is possible that taxes may increase more than 2.5 %. A common misconception is that Proposition 2 ½ restricts the amount an individual’s property tax bill can increase.
A community can exceed its Levy Limit for limited reasons and only with voter approval. One such reason, called a Debt Exclusion, allows a municipality to raise funds outside the Levy Limit for the limited period of time needed to repay the debt and interest on a loan for a particular capital purpose.
In our case, the Debt Exclusion would allow funds to be used to repay a loan for the costs of constructing a new elementary school to replace two older schools. The additional amount would be raised outside of the Levy Limit for the life of the debt only. Stated differently, Debt Exclusions do not become part of the base used to calculate the annual 2.5 % increase in the Town’s Levy Limit. Instead, the increase is temporary and lasts only for the life of the bonds.
In essence, a new elementary school. Technically, we are voting on whether to authorize the Town to raise the amount needed, outside of the Levy Limit, to make principal and interest payments on a 30 year loan. Each year, the Town would add to the total amount of the Tax Levy the specific amounts needed for that year to pay the annual principal and interest payment. If no debt exclusion were used, the Town would need to absorb the costs of those annual payments within the Levy Limit. Based upon the size of the project, it is the Town’s position that raising such funds within the Levy would limit the availability of funds for Town operations and other projects.
A “YES” vote would allow the Town to levy the additional taxes needed to repay the money it borrows to construct a new elementary school.
A “NO” vote would not allow the Town to levy additional taxes to construct a new elementary school.
The election date is Tuesday, May 2, 2023, with voting hours from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM at all of the Town’s voting locations.
Please visit the Elections page or contact the Town Clerk's office for more information about the election.
The estimated annual impact of the debt exclusion is $1.01 per $1,000 of assessed property value. It is estimated that the annual impact of the debt exclusion on the FY 2023 average single family residence in Amherst, valued at $446,953, is $451 ($446,953 / $1,000 X $1.01). These estimates are based on current economic conditions and are, of course, subject to change if economic conditions, such as interest rates, change.
NOTE: The estimated impact above is for a property assessed at $446,953. Properties with lower assessed value will see a lower impact while properties with a higher assessed value will see a higher impact. Please use the tool above to find your specific property.
The increase to taxes is estimated to begin in 2025 and terminate by 2056. The increase in the first few years will be lower as the building is under construction and will reach its peak level in 2029.
The Town will not be able to proceed with building a new elementary school as trying to fund the cost of the project within the Levy Limit will significantly reduce the amounts available for Town operations and other projects. In addition, the plan to renovate or replace the Fire Station, Jones Library, and Public Works facility will need to be reevaluated. One potential outcome is that the Town will need to invest in temporary repairs to the existing buildings which are aging and in poor condition.
No, the Town can only levy additional taxes to repay the debt for the new elementary school.
For more information on recycling, please view our
Visit the voter information section of our site.
Amherst has a unique challenge. It has approximately 40,000 residents but only about half live on taxable property because of the tax-exempt nature of the colleges and University. The Town provides infrastructure, roads, sidewalks, recreational facilities, public safety services and more to all of these residents but does not get an equivalent amount of tax money. This puts more stress on the Town’s operating budget and its taxpayers.
Town officials are advocating to its State Legislators to reevaluate the State’s Payment in Lieu of Tax Program (PILOT) and specifically to examine the impacts of State Owned Land on Amherst.
Town officials continue to seek additional funding sources, such as private donations and tax credit payments related to the Inflation Reduction Act legislation, to further reduce the impact of the debt exclusion.
There are several tax relief and exemption programs in place for the following groups of taxpayers that qualify:
o Legally Blind Individuals
o Surviving Spouses
o Minor Children of Deceased Parents
o Individuals Experiencing a Financial Hardship
For more information on these programs, please visit https://www.amherstma.gov/106/Exemptions
The Town also offers a tax work off program for qualifying seniors. More information on this program can be found here: https://www.amherstma.gov/586/Tax-Work-Off-Plan
The Town has not addressed any of its aging facilities over the past 30 years and several facilities are currently being considered for replacement or renovation. Town officials are working to tackle this challenge now, as delays will result in higher project costs.
The Town’s budget was $90 million in FY23, and it includes several millions of dollars for capital improvements. These funds go towards road repairs, new sidewalks, small facility projects, vehicle replacements, technology equipment, sustainability improvements, etc.
The Town is planning to use funds within the existing budget to repay the money borrowed for renovation of the Jones Library, new Fire Station in South Amherst, and the Public Works facility. It is not anticipated that these projects will require a debt exclusion as the Town intends to fund these projects within the Town’s Levy Limit.
The Town is planning to replace three buildings within the Levy Limit and without any additional taxes from a debt exclusion (library, fire, DPW). The plan has been in place for several years and requires maximizing funds available for capital improvements, operating as efficiently as possible, and building up reserves. One goal of the school building project is to use tax dollars more efficiently by leveraging economies of scale that come from operating two elementary schools rather than three.
These funds generally fall into two buckets: 1) rainy day funds and 2) capital funds. Rainy day funds are needed to protect the Town against economic downturns or unanticipated emergency expenditures. These funds help the Town maintain a strong bond rating which in turn results in a better interest rate when it goes out to borrow funds. Town officials do not advise using any of the rainy day funds.
Town officials are building up capital funds to pay for a new fire station. By using capital funds for the fire station, the Town will not need to borrow money and will save millions in interest costs. If these funds were used for the new elementary school, the new fire station would be delayed unless the funding was handled differently.
UPDATE: On April 3, 2023; the Town Council voted to appropriate $5 million from its Capital Stabilization Fund to reduce the impact of the debt exclusion on tax payers. The Town will seek to replenish this appropriation from the Capital Stabilization Fund by pursuing new federal tax credit payments for energy efficiency improvements at the proposed new elementary school.
No. A notary may not provide services for real estate closing documents unless the notary is also a licensed attorney.
Generally, the Notary will ask to see a current identification document that has a photograph, physical description, and a signature. A driver’s license, military ID, or passport will usually be acceptable. Your identification must be current and not expired.
No. Notaries are not responsible for the accuracy or legality of documents they notarize. Notaries verify the identity of signers. The signers are responsible for the content of the documents.
Yes! Please view the map located on the parking homepage to see all parking locations and enforcement hours. The North Pleasant Street lot near CVS has an 8-hour limit. Several other lots allow 4-hour parking. See the Parking Maps page for more details.
Yes, the Town has partnered with ParkMobile for making paying for parking as quick and easy as possible. Click here to find out more information.
Contact Parking Administration at 413-259-3020
Free parking is offered all day Sunday and anytime outside of enforcement hours. Enforcement hours can be found on the parking homepage. Anyone can park for free in areas designated as Town of Amherst Permit Parking between 5 PM and 8 AM and on Sundays. These permit areas can be found here. Parking is also free on the holidays listed below:
Please be mindful of posted time limits or other posted parking restrictions such as handicapped parking spaces, loading zones, etc.
Yes, parking fees still apply.
1. Watch for the flashing blue lights over busy intersections in Town.
2. Visit our website, www.amherstma.gov, to stay up-to-date on the latest announcements, news flashes and alerts.
3. Follow us on Social Media (Facebook & Twitter).
4. Sign up for Emergency Parking Alerts in your language of choice by clicking here or simply text the word Parking to 38276 from your mobile device for a quick sign-up option.
For questions, please reach out to Parking Administration at 413-259-3020.
Information on old outstanding parking violations can be obtained by calling Parking Administration at 413-259-3020.
Yes, everyone has 21 days from date of ticket violation to either pay or appeal the parking violation. Appeals must be submitted to our office in writing and can be made via:
Parking Appeals cannot be made via the telephone.
Per Massachusetts Law Chapter 90, section 20A-20E, all tickets must be paid within 21 days. A $15.00 late fee is added on the 22nd day. If your ticket remains unpaid, your license and/or registration may be marked for nonrenewal with the Registry of Motor Vehicles.
Yes, permits are available for those who live or work in Downtown Amherst. Permits are available for purchase , If you are interested in obtaining a parking permit, please visit our Permit Parking page for more information.
Permitted Parking is marked Downtown Amherst by blue signs. Permit season runs from September 1st - May 31st.
The North Pleasant Street lot and Ann Whalen lot (behind Ann Whalen Apartments against the fence) are often under utilized and may be a good location to check if you are having difficulty finding parking.
Example: If you are researching permits, projects, or documents related to “Kendrick Park”, you would type “Kendrick Park” into the search window, hit GO, and then view the search results.
The Records Bureau is located in the front lobby of the Police Department at 111 Main St., Amherst.
Records requests can also be made via mail. To request a copy of a record through the mail, a Records Request Form should be filled-out and sent to the records office, along with payment by check (payable to Town of Amherst), and a self-addressed, stamped envelope. This will expedite your request.
Please note that there is a nominal charge for all copies of records.
For More information on the firearms laws, requirements and disqualifying factors, see the Criminal History Systems Board's Firearms Records Bureau.
You may also email your request.
Possible resolutions include a verbal warning to the residents, a written warning to the residence, a Town of Amherst Noise By-Law violation fine of $100 or arrest for the violation. When determining the appropriate response, the officer may take many factors into consideration, such as the severity of the noise, the time of day, whether the residents have been warned before, the cooperation of the residents to address the problem.
The expanded law will require a booster seat/safety belt combination for children who have outgrown a child safety seat - typically when they are above age five or 40 pounds -until they are 8 years old OR over 57" tall. The Massachusetts Safety Belt Law requires safety belt use by those 13 years of age and older.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following for toddlers and pre-schoolers: After reaching the maximum weight or height for rear facing seats, children should ride in a forward-facing seat with a harness until they outgrow it, after which they should use a booster seat with higher weight limits.
Go to the Webtrac portal:
1. On the top menu bar, click My Account
2. Select Change Member Data
3. Click Add Family Member
If you are part of a household that has never used Webtrac before (e.g. only registered over the phone) you m ay not have a username or password to log in with.
Both Fort River and Wildwood Elementary schools have significant structural and functional issues. This project allows the Town to address the facility needs of both schools with a single new elementary school that improves the learning environment. The MSBA only accepts a certain number of schools into its grant program each year. If a debt exclusion is not approved for this project, it will be years before the Town is again accepted to participate in the program. As we have seen since the last attempt to replace these schools, delays also mean higher costs.
The Town has not addressed replacement of aging municipal facilities over the past 30 years and, as a result, has a backlog of facilities in poor condition requiring temporary improvements. As a result, any delays in this project will compound the facilities challenges facing the Town.
Yes, the School Department has projected over $1 million of operational savings as a result of moving from three elementary schools to two. These savings derive from lower utility and maintenance costs, more efficient use of staffing, and lower administrative costs.
The fee for a certified copy of a vital record is $10. For requests by mail, please enclose a self-addressed, stamped return envelope. Mail requests to:Town Clerk’s Office4 Boltwood Ave.Amherst, MA 01002
The first 15 minutes of search time will be at no charge, other than a $10 fee for each certified copy requested.
If the information is requested from a specific record, minimal information will be made available, with more complete information being available at charge of $10 per record.
Vital record searches may be done during regular business hours.
Further research may be conducted at: