Selectman Michael Prisco delivered a presentation Monday night at the Board of Selectmen meeting regarding the taxation fund. The board voted to "resurrect" the taxation aid committee, which will be in charge of the taxation fund.
According to Prisco, the recommendation for the fund is based on recent tax increases and the potential challenges it could create for disabled residents and seniors.
Prisco said that he researched other towns that have a similar fund, including Middleton, and it has been successful in those towns. He also mentioned that North Reading also had a similar fund in 1982.
North Reading already has $13,501 in their fund, every dollar was donated. The fund will always consist of donations.
“It’s really funded through the community," Prisco said.
Residents who want to donate to the fund can do so online through Uni-Bank on the town's website, by sending a separate check with a tax payment or by mailing a check directly to the Tax Collector's office at Town Hall.
Residents must meet certain requirements in order to be eligible for financial assistance from the taxation fund. For example, a senior has to be over 65-years-old before July 1 and make under a certain amount per year, around $18,000. The applicant will need to fill out a paper or electronic application before February 15 in order to qualify for that year. The applications will need to be filled out annually. In addition to the application, the resident will need to provide a letter detailing their financial hardship, what happened to cause it, how much they are asking for and what they plan to do to get back on track, Prisco said.
After an application is submitted, staff at the assessor's office will ensure that the criteria is met and then the Taxation Aid Committee will approve or deny the applications and decide how much money each applicant should be awarded. Then, the Tax Collector will amend tax bills accordingly.
Selectman Bob Mauceri asked what the committee would do if they had a large amount of applicants in February and only a limited amount of funds.
Prisco said that not everyone would get something, “that committee will have to make some tough decisions and we are going to try to spread the money the best way we can to the ones that really need it the most, and that’s all we can do."
The amount of donations received will determine how much the committee is able to give.
The Taxation Aid Committee was approved unanimously at the meeting Monday. Maryann Mackay, Deb Carbone, Michael Prisco, Mary Prenney and one other person that will soon be added are on the five person committee. All five members will have voting rights.