Legislative & Ordinance votes to increase municipal lien certificate fee

WESTFIELD – At a brief Legislative & Ordinance committee meeting on Nov. 18, Westfield Treasurer Matthew Barnes presented a resolution to increase the fee for a municipal lien certificate from $25 to $50.

Barnes said when someone buys or refinances a property, usually the lawyer requests a municipal lien certificate from the city collector’s office. The certificate shows what is owed to the city in real estate taxes, combined utilities and gas and electric.

Barnes said the cost for the certificate in Westfield has been $25 for years, while most neighboring communities, including Ware, Northampton, Munson, Longmeadow, and E. Longmeadow, charge $50. Barnes said Holyoke and Springfield both have a tiered fee based on the property, residential or commercial, but their minimum charge is $50. He said Westfield does not get that many commercial requests, so they didn’t see the need for a tiered fee.

Onyski asked how much work is involved for the collector’s office. Barnes said they have to run a report, and contact Westfield Gas & Electric. He said start to finish, the time averages 30 minutes, although the process can get more involved if someone owns a neighboring property, for example. He said in Fiscal Year 2020, the collector’s office filled out 1,090 forms, and from July 1 to October 1, 2020, requests have already exceeded 400.

The L&O committee, chaired by William Onyski, along with James Adams and Michael Burns, agreed that timewise, $50 is a legitimate charge. Adams said the increase will bring an additional $25,000 to $50,000 for the city.

The committee voted to approve the resolution, to go to the Nov. 19 City Council meeting for a vote.

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