|By Debbie Gardner|
HAMPDEN A small, but steady stream of residents were checking the town's recently-released proposed real estate assessments when this reporter visited the Assessor's Office and Town Hall last Wednesday.
Assessor's Office clerk Ann Murphy said she'd assisted "a few people" in checking their proposed property assessments that morning, and reported seeing people checking their properties in the book located outside the Police Department offices on Tuesday.
"That's why we have the book in the hall, because our hours are limited," Murphy said. She said the book outside the Police Department was available for public inspection 24 hours a day.
In a telephone interview with Reminder Publications, Diane Hildreth, chairman of the Board of Assessors, said the proposed assessments for residential properties reflected a 19 percent increase on average.
The proposed assessments were to be available to the public until Dec. 12. On Dec. 13, the state Department of Revenue (DOR) is scheduled to visit the town to begin the approval process for the 2006 tax rate.
"It won't be set on the 13th because [the DOR] takes everything back to their offices that day," Hildreth said. "There's usually a week to 10-day turnaround time. Hopefully it will be done as soon as it can be."
Hildreth said that in December, many communities are trying to have their tax rates set, and that stretches the resources of the DOR, slowing down the process.
In 2005, the tax rate for both commercial and residential properties in the Town of Hampden was set at $15.62 per $1,000 of valuation.
On Dec. 5, the Board of Selectmen approved the proposal to maintain equal taxation for both commercial and residential properties in 2006.
Hildreth said older residents concerned about their 2006 tax bill can visit the Board of Assessors office on Mondays and Wednesdays between 9 a.m. and 12:30 p.m to get information on the Senior Circuit Breaker and other exemption programs than may help them with their payments.