TOWN MEETING: Officials Tell Voters to Get Informed Before Voting on Senior Property Tax Exemption

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Voters are being encouraged to do their homework before arriving at the Oct. 15 special Town Meeting.

Article 11 will seek to authorize selectmen to petition state Legislators to allow them to establish a property tax exemption for Westford seniors.

“The subject matter proved to be quite complex,” said Paul Fassbender of the Senior Low Income Disabled Tax Relief Committee, which worked for more than a year to compose an article covering eligibility criteria and to identify from where the money would come.

Fassbender and Chairman Tom Spuhler recommended that voters watch the following WestfordCAT videos for more information:

Oct. 4: Westford League of Women Voters Special Town Meeting Warrant                         Review

Sept. 13: Finance Committee Meeting

Sept. 25: Board of Selectmen Meeting

The proposed exemption is designed to help seniors with low income and assets to pay no more than 10 percent of their income in property taxes, according to a document prepared by the SLIDTR committee.

This dovetails with a push by state Legislators to pass House Bill 4001 as a means tested senior citizen property tax exemption.

The objective for the Legislative bill is also to have qualified low-income seniors pay no more than 10 percent of their income in property tax. The state has funded up to $1,080 per household for the current tax year, according to Fassbender.

“This (Westford) article starts the ‘home rule petition process,’ which allows Westford to create our own tax exemption,” stated Fassbender. “An affirmative vote authorizes the selectmen to forward our draft language to the state legislature for review and approval. Committee votes and votes of both House and Senate are required, so approval will likely take a year or more.”

Language changes can be made before the bill becomes a law, Fassbender added, and Town Meeting voters will be asked to approve the adoption of the law.

“It could easily be two to four years, and possibly more, before exemptions may be offered to residents,” Fassbender stated.