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New senior tax rebate plan proposes stringent qualifications

Date: 2/28/2012

Feb. 27, 2012

By Chris Maza

LONGMEADOW — The Longmeadow Adult Center's Board of Directors has decided to refocus its senior tax rebate proposal.

Board of Directors Chair John Bowen told Reminder Publications that a revised proposal was agreed upon at the board's Feb. 16 meeting and submitted to Town Hall prior to the deadline for warrant articles for the Annual Town Meeting.

The new proposal has much tighter qualification requirements than the original Circuit Breaker proposal, which allowed residents with annual income as high as $77,000 to qualify.

"We felt the Circuit Breaker guidelines were too broad," Bowen said, adding that nearly 300 residents could qualify for residential property tax rebates under the original requirements.

Under the new proposed guidelines, residents must be 70 years of age or older and have lived in town for 10 consecutive years. Also, their retirement income must not exceed $35,000 for single applicants and $39,000 for joint applicants.

Bowen estimated that 100 to 150 residents would qualify under the new guidelines, significantly reducing the burden on the town.

"What we are trying to do is focus on the seniors who are most in need while still keeping it affordable for the town," Bowen said.

Bowen also pointed to conversations with the Massachusetts Council on Aging as another reason for the change in course.

"I called the state's Council on Aging and asked them what other towns have passed senior tax programs using Circuit Breaker and the fact is no one has passed that legislation," he said. "We went back to the legislation we originally talked about that had been adopted in Hamilton and Sudbury."

In order for the senior tax rebate to pass, it must receive support at the Annual Town Meeting, receive state approval, which Bowen said State Rep. Brian Ashe told him shouldn't be a problem, and also get an affirmative vote at the Annual Town Election.

"It's going to be a longer process, but we're willing to do it to achieve what we want to do," Bowen said. "We're confident it will happen, it will just take longer. We're still pleased with the way things are headed and are thinking positively."

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