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Taxation Aid Committee Provides Selectmen Update

Members of the Taxation Aid Committee, Aleina Brugos, Dick Skinner, and Linda Hawkes, attended an October 12 meeting to provide the Board of Selectmen an update on their latest efforts.

The Committee was formed in an effort to assist certain populations in town with their increased tax bills. Most recently, Mendon residents passed a Proposition 2 ½ override for the Regional School District, thus permanently increasing the average home's taxes by approximately $500.

The Taxation Committee was formed not long after the override was passed. Its members were charged with providing information on existing tax aid programs and researching new programs available to those in need.

One such measure was a voluntary contribution program approved by residents during a Special Town Meeting. The measure set up a donation-based fund assisting low income elderly homeowners and disabled homeowners to help defray the costs of their property taxes. Through the most recent tax bills mailed, residents were asked to voluntarily donate an amount not less than $1 to contribute to the fund. According to Brugos, the Committee Chair, 44 donations have been made to the fund raising a total of $2,683.

An application is now available to qualified seniors and disabled residents to apply for tax assistance. The application, which Brugos described as "comprehensive yet simplified," is available on the town's Website, the Assessor's and Treasurer's offices, and the Senior Center. Some of the requirements state applicants must be 60 years or older or disabled, and a Mendon resident for at least five years. Information on income is also required.

Selectman Chair Rich Schofield questioned if the Committee was trying to "minimize the hoops people might have to jump through" to qualify, noting that it's not easy for anyone to have to come forward requesting help. Brugos explained that if some residents are applying for tax assistance, they may also have requested assistance through other programs in town such as the food pantry, exemptions through the Assessor's office, or oil assistance. "If people have already filled out those forms which shows they have the need and are willing to document they have done so—we are willing to take this as a prequalification," she said. As a result, completing the longer application form is not necessary. February 1, 2017 is the first deadline to apply for the tax assistance. Names of applicants are viewed only by the Treasurer/Collector. The Committee reviews all applications by number identification to protect confidentiality.

The Selectmen were thankful and pleased with the Committee's progress. "This is a great start. It's going to help out a lot of people," said Selectman Chris Burke.


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