Updated 03/20/2013 07:52 PM
Pittsfield seniors await vote on a proposal that would give them tax break for volunteering
Senior citizen volunteers in Pittsfield could get a property tax break for volunteering. It's a proposal that could get approved as soon as next week. YNN's Madeleine Rivera reports.
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- Catherine Garrity-Soules volunteers regularly at the senior center in Pittsfield. She does it as a way to give back to her community. But soon, she might get something back in return.
"It would make me feel better that I was doing something to help the city and to help me," she said.
The City of Pittsfield will soon take up a proposal that would give senior citizens a property tax break if they spend their free time helping others.
"Our taxes have gone up. I own my own house and we are on social security and I would love to work it off," said Garrity-Soules.
The program is for volunteers age 60 or older. Single seniors who make less than $24,000 a year and married seniors who make less than $29,000 a year would be eligible. They would get a $1,000 property tax refund for putting in up to 125 hours for the city.
"It gets them out. It gets them active and an active senior is a healthier senior," said Barry Clairmont, Pittsfield City Councilmember at large.
But the proposal has been tabled for now. One council member proposes another plan: To reduce the eligibility age for real estate tax exemption in the city. This way, Pittsfield seniors age 65 or older can take advantage of the property tax refund. But Clairmont says there may be a catch.
"One thing that I'm concerned about with that particular program is we don't know how large the population is that would be eligible for this credit and if we open it up, we could find that it's a costly proposition to the city," he said.
The property tax break for volunteering would only be available for 100 seniors, costing the city $100,000.
"We're going to take the neediest seniors, first," said Clairmont.
Meanwhile, seniors like Garrity-Soules wait with hopes.
"I would love it. I really, really would," she said.
City councilmembers will discuss the proposal again at next Tuesday's council meeting.