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The Watershed Management PILOT amount is determined by multiplying the Department of Revenue (DOR) valuation of DCR Division of Water Supply Protection land by the local commercial tax rate.
DOR is responsible for setting the value of state-owned land every four years, pursuant to their guidelines on segmenting lands into prime lots (the requisite frontage and area needed to build a single family home in each community), rear acreage and unbuildable acreage, as well as discount adjustments for the total number of prime lots and total acreage.
There is a wide variation in the per-acre PILOT payment from community to community. This is due to varying real estate prices, which are a key factor in determining land valuation, and local tax rates.
DCR's permanently protected open space, therefore, is valued as if it is still potentially developable land and then the PILOT is calculated using the same tax rate structure as commercial or industrial property.
The latest DOR revaluation took place in the first half of the year 2017. The revaluation takes into account all lands purchased by the DCR over the previous four years as well as any changes in land values. These values will take effect in FY2018 PILOT.
Legislative provisions state that the Watershed Management PILOT payment can NEVER be less than that of the previous year, even if the value of the land or tax rates decrease.
Money for the PILOT program comes from the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) rate payers who use the reservoir waters. They pay their water bills to the MWRA, which provides the DCR with the funds needed to make the PILOT payment. The DCR makes an annual payment in full to each community in the program.
Many towns also receive compensation for other State Owned Lands that are not used for water supply protection. The Watershed PILOT program differs from this program in several ways:
The Watershed Management PILOT program land is owned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Chapter 61 land is privately owned with property taxes abated 95% in exchange for a commitment to keep the land in active forest use for 10 year intervals. The Chapter 61 program is managed by the Bureau of Forestry & Fire Control section of the DCR.
DCR Division of Water Supply Protection
251 Causeway St.
Boston, MA 02114