Edgartown begins senior property tax work-off plan
Six qualified seniors will contribute up to 100 hours of community service in Edgartown this year. In return they will receive $7.50 per hour - Massachusetts' minimum wage - in voucher form as a credit against their November 2008 Edgartown property tax bill.
This is the first year that Edgartown will run the program. Similar programs exist in Oak Bluffs, West Tisbury and in other towns throughout Massachusetts.
Applicants must be Edgartown property owners - or spouses of property owners - over the age of 60, as of July 1. Eligible seniors must also demonstrate financial need, according to an Edgartown Council on Aging (ECOA) description of the program.
The six participants will be skilled in areas that need help. Before participants are selected, town department heads and the applicant must agree that the work to be performed is an "appropriate match."
Although applicants do not apply for specific jobs, they can indicate departmental and work preferences. The single biggest factor for selection is the individual applicant's qualifications for the available positions, according to Laurie Schreiber, director of ECOA, who described the plan in a telephone conversation with The Times on Monday.
A committee consisting of the ECOA director, ECOA board members, and the town assessor will review applications and forward them to town departments with job availabilities. Work is now available at the Council on Aging, the shellfish committee, the Edgartown Library, and the highway department.
Participating departments will be responsible for certifying all hours worked. The assessors will prepare the tax abatement and forward it to the tax collector.
Although participants will not receive paychecks for their service, they will be considered "employees" for the purpose of town tort liability. So, Edgartown will be liable for injuries to third parties and workman's compensation, as if the program's participants were regular employees.
The yearly program runs between July 1, 2007 and June 30, 2008. Seniors who participate one year will need to re-apply the next year.
"It's wonderful because it allows people to work for the town and, in return, the town benefits immensely," said Ms. Schreiber.
Interested, qualified seniors should fill out an application as well as another required form, entitled the Town of Edgartown Contract for Services. Both are currently available at the Edgartown Town Hall, the Council on Aging and the Assessors Offices. The completed applications, along with a copy of the applicant's Edgartown tax notice, should be returned by June 30.