Seniors may be able to work for property tax break in Pittsfield - NEWS10 ABC: Albany, New York News, Weather, Sports

Seniors may be able to work for property tax break in Pittsfield


PITTSFIELD, Mass. - A proposed ordinance in Pittsfield, if passed, would allow qualifying senior citizens to volunteer for work around the city for a break on property taxes.

Barry Clairmont, Councilor at Large, proposed the plan explaining why he came up with the plan: "Well when we had the tax hike back in the fall which was a little more than 3% to residents, I was concerned about the seniors on fixed income. So I wanted to try and find a way to lower the burden."

The plan states that single seniors who bring in less than $24,000 per year and married seniors who bring in less than $28,000 per year, could volunteer for city work and receive up to $1,000 off their property taxes.

"We generate 40 million dollars in property taxes so if this can be somewhat of a relief to our seniors we want to pursue it," said Pittsfield Mayor Daniel Bianchi.

However the Mayor raises some concerns through the planning, "Where would these folks work, how would they be supervised, what would happen in the event that they were hurt on the job? So there's a variety of concerns and we want to address them and we want this to be a success," he said.

The mayor said the jobs for seniors could vary, but will generally be clerical work, to lessen the issue of potential job related injuries.

Another concern is raising taxes of non-qualifying residents. "The amount that would go up per resident would be minimal, we're talking probably cents," Clairmont said.

Pittsfield's mayor says this isn't a push to get seniors back in the workforce, "This is strictly voluntary obviously, and you know you're right they are in their golden years, but you always want those years to be comfortable ones for them.  And I think this is a nice opportunity for them to be more involved in the community."

Eleanor Rotz, a Pittsfield senior says, "I think that sounds great, it's such an incentive, you know who wouldn't want to do something and then get some kind of a payback for it?"

Catherine Garrity-Soules, a senior homeowner in Pittsfield says, "It would make me feel more empowered, and better about myself.  I'm retired, and I do a lot of volunteer work, yeah and to get something back from it, that would be nice"

The ordinance is set to be voted on this coming Tuesday. If passed, the ordinance could be adopted July 1st, and be used in the 2014 fiscal year.

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