|Pittsfield Unveils Tax Bill's New Look|
|By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff|
04:08PM / Monday, December 18, 2017
|Tax Collector Lisa Lewis worked with the city's billing vendor on the new design.|
An example of the new format will be on display at City Hall.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The tax bills will look a little different in January.
The city unveiled the new look of the tax bills on Monday, which officials believe will be easier to read and provide more pertinent information.
"I found the old bill was very busy, had very small font. For me, as a taxpayer, I wouldn't go past the first couple lines on the first portion of the bill because there was so much information," Tax Collector Lisa Lewis said.
"We just made it more concise, cleaner, and easier to read."
Lewis spent the last month working with the city's billing vendor Kelley & Ryan to change up the bills. Lewis said the old bill has something confusing information such as the deadline for abatements printed on bills sent out after that deadline, or late payment interest rates on bills that weren't late.
The city reformatted those bills and tied the pertinent information to the quarterly bills.
"The two main modifications you'll notice on the tax bill are the community preservation act surcharge line. That was passed in November of 2016. And the assessor's phone number. If taxpayers have questions about the assessed value, they now have the direct line," Lewis said, adding that often residents were calling the tax collector to get abatement information and we being redirected to the assessor's office.
It also contains three address in which a resident can send the bill — the city's PO Box, city hall's address for walk-ins, and the lockbox PO Box — as well as the city of Pittsfield's website, where residents can pay the bills online.
Director of Finance Matthew Kerwood said the new bill is the result of looking at an old document "with a new set of eyes." He said the tax collector has been working on modernizing the office and that includes a more user-friendly tax bill.
"The bill we had in place had been in place for about 15 years and really had a lot of information on it, a lot of information that was redundant, wasn't really in the right place. It wasn't as user-friendly as we wanted to achieve," Kerwood said.
All of the legally required information remains on the bill, but may be moved or tailored to specific bills. The bills will be sent out at the end of the month with the new format - for the third and fourth quarter of this fiscal year.
"We didn't want people to panic and wonder why the bill looks different," Kerwood said of the city holding a press conference to unveil the bill on Monday.
A poster-sized version of the new bill will be on display outside of the collector's office.
"The primary goal was to make the bill more user-friendly, easier, clearer so that the information you are looking for is right there," Kerwood said.