Bosley Calls for Expanded Use of County Communications
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Daniel E. Bosley, candidate for Berkshire County Sheriff, called for expanded use of the county's communications system to enhance the safety of seniors.
“I believe that we can create a new program that calls for us to check on seniors who live alone or are in remote areas in the county,” he said.
Bosley explained that the sheriff operates the County Communication Center for most of the towns in Berkshire County. The sheriff also is a member of the Triad Safety Program, which was created for enhanced safety for senior citizens.
“It makes sense for the sheriff to reach out to ensure the safety of at-risk seniors. Our communications center does a great job and I feel that we can check on our seniors to ensure their well-being without an increase of cost to the center.”
Bosley explained that Franklin County had, until recently, several deputy sheriffs who would travel around their county checking on seniors in small towns. He said that the rural nature of Franklin County necessitated this approach. However, recent budget cuts ended this program.
“In Berkshire County, our communications center can use reverse calling to reach out to seniors that would sign up for a phone call each month or at a determined time. This would save us the cost of a more expensive outreach like Franklin County, but would ensure that every senior would be connected to someone who could check on their safety and well being.”
Bosley said that the sheriff’s roles in both Triad and County Communications make the sheriff’s department the logical contact point to conduct this program. If there is a problem, the call center is the place where an emergency call would come for most towns. “This is a low-cost way to ensure that our seniors are safer and are able to get help if they need it," he said.
Bosley also said that working with these agencies would allow the center to give information to seniors each month as well. “Each message could be a health or safety tip, or could contain information that is vital to the well-being of our seniors,” he said.
Bosley commented that his experience in dealing with such agencies as Elder Services would help to coordinate efforts with social and human service agencies and the call center, ensuring the well-being of senior citizens.
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MacDonald Proposes Changes to Seniors' Tax Exemptions
ADAMS, Mass. — With increasing costs in everything from health care to real estate taxes, Ed MacDonald, candidate for state representative in the 1st Berkshire District, has proposed increasing the dollar amount granted for qualifying senior citizens' exemptions and adjusting the monetary guidelines they must meet.
Currently, each city and town adopts an elderly exemption for property owners. There are key criteria that need to be met before an exemption is granted. In many communities, these requirements have not changed in years. The basic requirements are that an individual must own and occupy the property on July 1 of the tax year, must live in Massachusetts for the past 10 years, and own and occupy their residence for five years.
In addition to residency requirements, there are income and asset amounts that need to be met. Depending on which clause the city or town voted to accept, the income can range from $6,000 to $15,000. Assets can range from $7,000 to $30,000. These amounts are incredibly low, MacDonald said, and need to be adjusted to meet today’s cost of living standards. Once the income and asset guidelines are increased, MacDonald proposes that the exemption amount be raised from $500 to $1,000 in every community. Currently, each city and town has the authority to pass Clause 41, 41B, or 41C. Each clause has its own set of guidelines.
“I will propose a review of the exemptions that are available to senior citizens. I will recommend that income and asset guidelines increase as well as the exemption amount. Several years ago, the veterans’ exemptions increased but not the elderly exemptions. It’s time we bring the standards up and assist those who want to stay in their own homes,” MacDonald said.
For more information on tax exemptions for seniors, click here.
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