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Cheshire Considering Senior Tax Work-Off Program

By Jack Guerino
iBerkshires Staff
05:44PM / Saturday, January 09, 2021
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CHESHIRE, Mass. — The Selectmen are exploring implementing a senior tax work-off program, however, with an abundance of eligible seniors, the program would likely have to be modified.

The senior tax work-off program has been a regular agenda item for some time at board meetings, but after discovering there are about 1,100 eligible seniors, the Selectmen agreed some more thought needed to go into the program.
 
"I know there have been a lot of questions behind the scenes," Chairwoman Michelle Francesconi said at Tuesday's selectmen's meeting. ... We need to factor this into the budget and hone in the requirements for the program so we can ensure stability."
 
The program, which has been adopted by other Berkshire County municipalities, allows eligible seniors to work or complete tasks for their community. Instead of receiving payment, an earned amount is subtracted from their taxes. 
 
Francesconi said the Selectmen have to continue to work with the assessor and noted restrictions would have to be implemented if the program were going to work in town.
 
"We would need caps and controls because there is the possibility that we would not have enough money," she said. "That would impact all tax payers."
 
In other business, Francesconi said work continues on Town Hall and that the hired painter has moved from the annex into the actual building.
 
"Everything is progressing. It has been a little chaotic because we have a lot going on," she said. "We are in a transition, but the work is getting done."
 
She said the painter will start upstairs and move through the building, allowing different departments to shift around making way for a fresh coat of paint.
 
Some work was also done on the ice skating rink shack. Francesconi said it was stabilized and secured with a new lockset after it was found that a squatter was living in the building. She said a space heater was found in the shack that was a potential fire hazard.
 
"We were able to fully secure the building, but there are a lot of little things like that," she said.
 
Selectman Jason Levesque suggested, in the future, consolidating some funds from various maintenance accounts and creating a building maintenance position.
 
"That way we would have someone who could address things at a whim," he said. "We could definitely use the upkeep." 
 
The Selectmen liked the idea but agreed it was a conversation for a later date.
 
Highway Superintendent Robert Navin said the town will begin to use treated salt for winter maintenance. He said the salt will be blue.
 
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