While most New Englanders associate the onset of autumn with the falling of brightly colored leaves, for the Division of Local Services, this is the season for certification of property valuations, tax rates, and free cash. These certifications are fundamental to the operation of city and town governments, and are largely done on a first-in, first-out basis.

So far this fiscal year, the Bureau of Accounts has reviewed 181 balance sheets, certified $351,953,998 in free cash, and approved tax rates for 43 of the Commonwealth's 351 cities and towns. In the next two months the crunch will be on as BOA approves the vast majority of tax rates.

The Bureau of Local Assessment is equally busy this time of year, as 101 communities undergo their triennial property revaluation certification. BLA has issued 28 final certifications and an additional 47 preliminary certifications, and has noticed that communities have been presenting their data a little earlier than was the case last year.

Perhaps, the early arrival of BLA data is due to DLS' Gateway system , which has expedited the flow of information. Gateway has given local officials a better view of how these processes are going for their city and town and immediate feedback on their progress. DLS anticipates that every city and town this year will be using Gateway.

Robert G. Nunes