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The Adams Board of Selectmen meets Wednesday to hear about tax collection and approve a new full-time position.

Adams Gets Good News on Tax Collection Rates

By Jeff SnoonianiBerkshires Correspondent
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Treasurer/Tax Collector Kelly Rice updates the board on the status of property tax collection Wednesday night.
ADAMS, Mass. — The town's tax collection rate isn't 100 percent — but it's pretty close. 
The Selectmen had asked Treasurer/Tax Collector Kelly Rice for a general health check of the town's collection progress at a meeting earlier this month and were pleased to hear her say on Wednesday that the numbers are generally positive.
"Ninety-seven-point-one percent," was Rice's answer when asked what the town's success rate was in collecting property taxes. The town currently has 98 properties in tax title lien with a little less than a third of those on a payment plan to meet their obligations.
"We do about $11 million [in property tax collections] per year so $5.5 million each half. We've collected almost $5.3 million for the first half alread, which is around 97 percent," Rice told the board. "The delinquent number (prorated) would be $400,000, which is good because it's always been in the $600,000s."
The town and Rice have been stepping up efforts to collect unpaid taxes over the past few years. Rice even mentioned a recent auction the town held during which 11 of 12 foreclosed properties up for bid were sold. 
Rice said she gets a lot of questions on why the town doesn't take delinquent properties more often or quicker but that it's not a simple process. There are also very specific general laws that must be followed.
When real estate tax is uncollected it is recorded at the Registry of Deeds in an "instrument of taking." That effectively places a lien on the property that takes precedence over any other liens. The unpaid amount is certified by the tax collector to the treasurer and becomes a tax title account.
If the tax is not paid within six months and there has been no payment plan agreed upon, a petition to foreclose may be filed by the town in Massachusetts Land Court. While this is all in motion the owner can still keep their property by becoming current with all back taxes and penalties before the land taking process is complete. 
Should the property owner be unable or unwilling to pay, the town will become the owner of the property after the Land Court process is adjudicated and the delinquent taxes will remain uncollected and come off the books. The town can then sell the property or the tax lien individually or as a block of parcels.
The entire process generally takes about two years. 
Some of those tax dollars will be used for a new full-time employee for the town.
Kim Witek has been the animal control officer part time but will now step up to full time and split her duties between Animal Control and Parking Control.
When the town reconstructed the Visitors Center parking lot in 2018, pay station parking meters were installed. The town also decided to keep the existing meters on Park Street when it was redone several years ago. Summer Street also has parking meters that run from Route 116 to Hoosac Street.
The enforcement of parking fines has always been sporadic at best as the Adams Police Department has seen cuts like most other municipal departments and hasn't been able to supply the manpower. The hope is that the additional cost of the enforcement officer will be superseded by the collection of parking fines.
The next regular meeting of the Board of Selectmen will be Wednesday, Feb. 5, at 7 p.m.

Tags: delinquent taxes,   property taxes,   tax collection,   

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Adams Updating 50-Year-Old Zoning Maps

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
ADAMS, Mass. — Adams is moving to update its zoning maps for the first time in nearly 50 years. 
The Planning Board got an update at a Monday workshop on the proposed zoning boundaries and how an information session on the new zoning went last week. 
"You've done a really good job with this," said board member Michael Mach. You put a lot of work into this and it's about time because we haven't done any zoning in the town since, what, the '70s?"
Kevin Towle, senior planner in the Community Development Office, said more than 100 letters were sent out to those whose properties would be affected by the zoning changes but only about a dozen people attended the information session.
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