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Town Resources
Betterments/Special Assessments

The Town of Shirley first assessed Sewer Betterments in FY2003. The cost appears on the tax bills under the section marked "Special Assessments".

A sewer betterment assessment is a special tax that is assessed by the Town of Shirley to properties that have been "bettered" by the construction of a public sewer.  Betterment assessments are a form of taxation, and, until paid, constitute a lien upon the land assessed. Service by a public sewer is an improvement over on-site wastewater disposal (i.e. septic systems, etc.). Therefore, when a municipality constructs public sewers, the value of those properties abutting the sewer line are said to have been improved or "bettered".  In Massachusetts, sewer betterments are governed by Chapters 80 and 83 (excluding Sections 1 and 2 of Chapter 80) and are under the jurisdiction of the Department of Revenue. Sewer betterment assessments are monies intended to pay back all or a portion of the debt service of the "local share" of the sewer construction and associated engineering capital costs.

Calculation of Betterments
The Town of Shirley approved the "uniform unit" method, which defines each property as a number of "sewer units" and divided the assessment costs by the total number of sewer units included in the project. A "sewer unit" is defined as a single-family residence

The sewer betterment assessment is a one time special tax that can be paid in one lump sum or apportioned up to a maximum of twenty (20) years. Those property owners who did not pay in full at the time the betterment is assessed have the remainder of their assessments amortized over twenty (20) years at a rate of two percent (2%) interest added annually to the unpaid balance.

A lien recorded at the Middlesex South Registry of Deeds listing the unpaid betterments is placed on the properties receiving the assessment. The lien is discharged when the assessment is paid in full or it will expire automatically two years after the final payment is made.

Dissolving Betterments (Mass General Law Chapter 80 Section 12)
Once a betterment is paid in full, the Collector's Office, upon written request, will provide a Dissolving Betterment Certificate to be recorded at the Registry of Deeds. The cost for the certificate is $4.00. Please be sure to include a self addressed stamped envelope with your request. The property owner must file this certificate at the Middlesex South Registry of Deeds, 208 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02141. The cost to record the certificate is $75.00.

Mail requests to:
Town Collector's Office
7 Keady Way
Shirley, MA 01464

Town of Shirley     7 Keady Way     Shirley, MA 01464     PH: 978-425-2600