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The property subject to taxation includes all lands Taxable Prop- and buildings within the State, goods, erty.
chattels, money and effects, ships and vessels, money at interest, and debts due the person more than his own indebtedness, stocks and bonds, and income from employment. Some property in the State is exempted from taxation.
This includes the property of the United Property exempted from States and of the Commonwealth ; the Taxation.
personal property of literary and charitable institutions; houses of religious worship; cemeteries and tombs; the property of agricultural societies; household furniture not exceeding one thousand dollars in value; wearing apparel, and farmers' and mechanics’ tools; two thousand dollars of the income from employment; a part of the property of certain widows and unmarried females; young cattle; and the assessors are allowed to exempt the polls and estates of such persons as by reason of age, infirmity, and poverty, they judge unable to contribute fully to the public charges.
The poll-tax is assessed annually upon each person, Where Taxes in the place where he is an inhabitant on are Assessed the first day of May. Taxes on real estate are assessed in the city or town where the estate lies, to the person who is the owner on the first day of May. In general, taxes on personal estate are assessed to the owner in the city or town where he is an inhabitant on the first day of May, though there are several exceptions to this. The State and county taxes are assessed by the town officers, usually with the town taxes. The amount to be raised for the town is determined by vote at the annual meeting.
About the 1st of May in each year, the assessors give public notice to the inhabitants, re- Mode of Assessquesting them to bring to the assessors, ment. within a specified time, true lists of their polls and estates not exempted from taxation. Persons bringing such lists are to make oath that they are true. In case any fail to bring the required list, or refuse to be sworn, the assessors are to ascertain, as fully as possible, the kind and amount of taxable property for which these persons are liable. Having completed the inventory of the polls and property subject to taxation, the officers assess the state and county taxes upon the polls. If either of these taxes exceeds one dollar on each pole, the excess must be assessed upon property; and all town and city taxes must be assessed upon property according to law. When the assessment is finished, the assessors make out a list of the names of persons taxed, with a description of their property, and the amount of the tax. This list is sworn to by the assessors as being, according to their best knowledge and belief, a true list of the property; and they affirm that the assessment thereon is full and accurate. This list is given to the collector, with a warrant specifying his duties, and when and to whom he shall pay the money collected. Any person feeling aggrieved by the assessment may petition the assessors for an abatement, which they may grant for satisfactory reasons. If the abatement is refused, and if the person brought in the required list and took the required oath, he may appeal to the county commissioners.
Each town may choose a collector of taxes. If none is chosen, the constable performs the Collector of duties. This officer gives bonds to the Taxes.
town for the faithful discharge of his duties. Having received from the assessors the tax-list and the accompanying warrant, it is his duty to collect the taxes. If a tax is not paid within a specified time, the collector may seize the property, or such portion of it as he deems necessary, and, after public notice, may sell it at auction, refunding to the owner whatever is received at the sale above the tax and costs of collection. If a person refuses to pay his tax, and the collector cannot find sufficient property for the purpose, he may take the person, and commit him to prison, to remain until he pays the tax and costs, or until he is released by process of law. A Treasurer is chosen annually by ballot, who gives
bonds for his fidelity, and whose duty it is Treasurer.
to receive and take charge of all sums of money belonging to the town, and pay over the same to the order of the proper officers. He is required to make an annual report to the town, of his receipts and payments. Constables are chosen by ballot. They give bonds
to the town, and, having done so, are emConstables.
powered to serve writs and other legal processes specified by law. They serve warrants issued to them by the selectmen, convey persons to the county jail or house of correction, pursue offenders, and prosecute for the violation of the Sunday laws, and the laws against profane swearing and gaming. They summon persons chosen to various town offices to appear before the town clerk, and take the required oath: they also summon the persons who have been drawn as jurors.
Among the beneficent provisions of the Massachusetts statutes is the following: “Every city and town shall relieve and support all poor and Overseers of indigent persons lawfully settled therein, Poor. whenever they stand in need thereof.” To carry out this requirement is the business of the Overseers of the Poor, three or more of whom may be chosen by any town annually. If these are not chosen, the selectmen perform their duties. They have the care of all such poor as long as they remain dependent upon the town, and see that they are suitably relieved, supported, and employed. They have the oversight of the town almshouse, employing a keeper, and making the necessary regulations for the care and employment of the persons supported. They represent the town in its dealings with other towns in relation to the settlement and support of paupers.
Each town is required annually to elect by ballot a board of School Committee. The num- School Comber composing the board is determined by mittee. the town, but it must be a multiple of three. The term of service is three years, one-third of the board being elected annually. A vacancy in the board is filled by joint vote of the remaining members and the selectmen. The person chosen to fill the vacancy holds office only until the end of the official year, when the town chooses some one for the remainder of the term. This board has the general charge and superintendence of all the public schools in town. It has a secretary, who keeps a permanent record of its proceedings. The school committee select and contract with the teachers of the public schools, and personally examine them as to their qualifications to teach and govern; and they may dismiss from employment any teacher whenever they think proper. Teachers, before entering upon their duties, must receive a certificate of qualification from the committee, a duplicate of which must be deposited with the selectmen before they are entitled to any pay for services. It is the duty of the committee to visit all the public schools once a month to ascertain their condition and wants. They decide what text-books shall be used in the schools, and make arrangements for furnishing them to the pupils. Any town may require the committee to choose a superintendent of schools, who, under the direction and control of the committee, shall have the care and supervision of the schools. The school committee are required to make an annual detailed report to the town of the condition of the schools, with such suggestions as to their improvement as they deem proper.
Towns choose one or more Surveyors of Highways. Surveyors of If there is more than one, the town is Highways usually divided into districts; and the whole sum voted for the care of roads is divided among these districts in proportion to the valuation of each. Each surveyor spends the money allotted to him, and is responsible for the condition of the highways in his district. Instead of surveyors of highways, any town may create a board of three road commissioners, chosen for three years by ballot, one retiring annually. This board has the care of the roads and bridges of the town. Field-drivers are required to be chosen by all the
towns. The number is not specified. Field-Drivers.
wers. Each town is also to maintain one or more sufficient pounds, or places for the enclosure and safe keeping of stray cattle, and annually to appoint a