HALIFAX — Senior citizens may soon be able to work off portions of their tax bills by volunteering for town departments
The Halifax Council on Aging plans to ask Annual Town Meeting in May to institute a senior citizen property tax work-off program.
Town Meeting starts on Monday, May 11 at 7:30 p.m. at the Halifax Elementary School in gym.
Council on Aging Director Barbara Brenton said senior citizen property tax work-off programs have been around for more than 20 years, and are in place in more than 100 Massachusetts communities, including in Plymouth County.
Brenton said she worked with Principal Assessor/Appraiser Karen Trudeau and they are proposing that Halifax start with a program with spots for two senior citizens who would each work for 83 hours and earn $750 each in property tax credits.
They could volunteer for the assessors office, the Council on Aging, the recycling center, Holmes Public Library or Conservation Commission, all Halifax town offices willing to take on one or two people under the program, Brenton said.
“If we start with two people, it’s simple, easy, not a lot of money,” she said. “I just want to get it going.”
If more people apply for the program than there are openings, participants would be selected by lottery, she said.
The COA director would interview applicants, but as the program goes on, department heads would interview candidates too. If a senior citizen volunteer does not work out, the department head could call the COA director to find another person to fill the hours, Brenton said.
Volunteers could start on Aug. 1 and work until Feb. 1, working three hours per week, she said.
Trudeau said once Town Meeting votes to accept a senior citizen tax work-off program, the town must keep the program in place for at least three years under state law.
Halifax Town Meeting could amend the program, but not drop it, in the first three years, she said.
Brenton said that in the future, Halifax could expand the tax work-off program to include veterans, but for now the proposal is for senior citizens.
“We can build,” she said.
Halifax Selectmen on Jan. 28 voted 3-0 to support the proposal by the Council on Aging to institute senior citizen tax work-off program.
Selectman Troy Garron said there are lots of senior citizens in Halifax who have expertise looking to come in and a tax work-off program is a really good idea.
“If they can benefit from it as well as contribute, I think it’s going to work,” he said. “The program itself has merit.”