Senior Tax Rebate article to be amended By Chris Maza firstname.lastname@example.org
LONGMEADOW – The Finance Committee has shifted track, telling John Bowen, chair of the Board of Directors for the Council on Aging, that it would recommend the Senior Tax Rebate proposal, provided that certain modifications to the program were made.
The Finance Committee
initially had voted not to recommend the warrant article originally placed on the warrant. The proposal would offer a
property tax rebate to seniors older than 70 years of age who have lived in town for 10 years or more and have income totaling less than $35,000 a year as an individual or $39,000 a year as joint applicants.
“The idea here is to help the
seniors who are making $20,000 a year and are struggling to pay a $5,000 tax bill,” Bowen said. Members of the Finance
Committee expressed concerns over what income and assets should be taken into consideration in the application process.
“The intent of this I like, but I
don’t like the fact that in just saying income, someone could be making $200,000 on municipal investments that couldn’t be reflected,” Committee member Mark Barowsky said. “So they could, in fact, be making $235,000 a year and still qualify for this.” Committee member James
Law suggested utilizing adjusted gross income (AGI), however, it was decided that leaves out too much financial information. Instead, the committee agreed that total income, including all tax- exempt income, should be the measure for rebate applications. The number would be equivalent to the “total income” figure on line 22 of the 2011 1040 federal tax return form. Meanwhile, other committee members questioned whether or not the program should be allowed to be a permanent fixture or something that is periodically renewed.
“Once it becomes a law, it’s
extremely difficult to change,” Committee member Edward Steiger said. Bowen and Aseltine agreed to
change the language to state that the rebate program would be renewed every three years at a Town Meeting. Law also suggested removing the requirement that applicants qualify for the Circuit Breaker program.
“I think you want to drop the
part that says they have to qualify for the senior Circuit Breaker only because I think our governor is going to attack that very shortly,” he said. “He looks for any way he can make money and that senior Circuit Breaker isn’t repetitive. It’s enacted each year. If that drops, the way I read this, that would mean no one would qualify and you’d have to start all over again.” Steiger concurred, stating that
the town’s policies regarding the rebate should be independent of any state legislation. “If we base it on another aspect of the legislative system and that aspect changes, the it all would be totally out of whack,” he said.
Because the warrant has
closed, the changes must be made as an amendment on the floor at Town Meeting.
TELL Mass survey will reveal teachers’ perspectives on schools
By Chris Maza email@example.com
LONGMEADOW – Educators in the Longmeadow Public Schools recently received the opportunity to provide feedback on how they feel the district fares in teaching its children.
On March 12, the Department
of Elementary and Secondary Education launched the Teaching, Empowering, Leading and Learning in Massachusetts (TELL Mass) survey an online questionnaire giving school department employees the chance to give their perspective on the working conditions of the schools, including instructional practices, allotted time for learning, supplies, facilities, resources and community support. Participation in the survey,
which was funded through the DESE’s Race to the Top grant, was voluntary and confidential. “We know that positive teaching and learning conditions are critical to meeting high standards and expectations, improving student performance and recruiting and retaining educators,” DESE Commissioner Mitchell Chester said. “The TELL Mass survey will help us to ensure that educators have the time, tools and supports necessary to be effective in their classrooms and schools.” The survey, which took 20 to 30 minutes to complete, according to the DESE, was available to teachers until April 6. Longmeadow Public Schools Superintendent Marie Doyle said she was eager to see the results. “The TELL Mass survey will give our district feedback on
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whether or not we’re fostering a positive learning environment for our children,” she said. “That information is very important to ensuring our students are learning at the highest level possible.” Doyle added that the district
will take the information into consideration when implementing any changes.
She also said that once the results come in, she would be happy to share the results with the public. Results will also be posted on the TELL Mass website – www.tellmass.org
– in July, according to the DESE. “I think the parents have the
right to know,” she said. “This information can help parents understand what is going on in our schools and we can use the survey to determine what courses of action we wish to pursue going forward.”
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