Saturday, September 24, 2005

The Lady in Red Shoes

A senior with red shoes came to the Special City Council Meeting, with the Massachusetts Delegation to discuss issues and concerns regarding property taxes and municipal revenue, held at 5:30pm on Sept 22, 2005. A total of 5 members of the Mass Delegation appeared through their staff: Amy Seto from Rachael Kaprielian office, Rosie Hunter from Anne Paulson's office, Korynn Schorly from Alice Wolf's office, Matt McKenna from Steven Tolman's office and last but not least, Jimmy Gondolfe from robert Travaglini's office. Several of us plain old residents of this City were there, and well prepared for our 3 min allowence of "hearing from the public." We were quite surprized by the Mayor's show of generosity in extending our time limit to 5 min.

Almost as soon as the meeting was called to order, the delegation was questioned as to how to spell their names, and whose office they werew from. This, of course, was one of the main reasons the public came, even if that reason was not what the City council had in mind. Shortly after the first speaked addressed the miks, the Lady in Red Shoes got up and walked out. I quickly followed her into the hall, and she turned to me almost in tears, "They are going to raise our taxes again." she stated firmly, but quite shaking, so I showed her my e-mail address and new blog address, and invited her to contact her, and told her I was fighting for her.

Even before I returned to my seat my name was called. i want to thank Amy, Rosie, Korynn, Matt and Jimmy for coming to here us. I know that another invited member of the Mass delegation, one who didn't come, thought this meeting would be filled with a bunch of people who don't know what is going on, and who just need to vent! But those members of the delegation who did come were treated to something quite different, we do know what is going on, and we expect both the Mass Delegation and the Cambridge City Council to listen-up! I believe we each spoke to a different aspect of the "Tax-attack" as I prefer to call it, or the Tax Bomb as new candidate for City council likes to call it.

The Lady in Red Shoes calls it unfair to seniors.

Indeed, whatever other inequities the Mass Property Tax codes, and City of Cambridge property Tax system have, the disparate burden to seniors is glaring. which is why I cannot understand why the Special Tax Committee called for by David Maher, City Councilor, failed to address needed reform of the Statutory Exemptions. certainly there must be 3 dozen bills on the hill screaming obout the need of seniors for tax relief. Let me state right not, tax deferrment is not to be confused with tax relief!!! Tax deferrment is just a taking, albeit later, not now. Common now, it's not nice to fool seniors who have been paying taxes and voting for you guys for years now. Tax relief, and the long delayed reform of the Statutory Exemptions is what is called for here.

Disparate Burden

Seniors with extreemly low fixed income and persons with disabilities who are unable to work as a result of their disability and live on SSI, are hardest hit when the State shifts the burden of taxes from income based revenues to property taxes and fees for service. but that is just what the state has done. not only that, the State has not provided any statutory exemption for those surviving on SSI. Does the State believe that homeowners who become disabled should lose their homes because the property tax and water fees exceeds 10% of their income, even aproaching 25% of SSI benifits?

The State needs to increase the $20,000 income limit for Statutory exemption 41 and include PWDs on SSI. Please note that the low income limit is BELOW the income limit to qualify for the City's Snow Exemption Program, whis is set each January using the Executive Office of Elder Affairs Guidelines for State funded home care services, and currently is $21,339. If the Median Income in the Boston Area is $57,900 today, what was it when the income limit for clause 41 was set at $20,000? Are the Cities allowed to apply COLA to raise the income limet annually? Should not the state require that? In New Jersey ther is an effort to raise the income limit from $40,000 to $60,000. Other states are looking at a freeze for seniors and the permanently disabled.

I must say I am disapointed with the Usuall Suspects, the mainstream news media for failing to report on this. Instead they confine themselves to repeating the propaganda they hear at "Talk Shows" or public meetings, hearings, as though lip service was a substitute for concrete action. Therefore I was upset at the meeting Thursday, as my letter to the editor was not published in time for the meeting. Senior issues are being brushed aside, and People With Disibilities are ignored altogether! We are the invisible people! I am calling on the mainstream media, to report on the issue of the disparate burden property taxes place on seniors AND people with disabilities, and how that relates to POVERTY!!!

Here is a copy of the letter I sent to the Cambridge Mass Delegation:

Dear Representatives and Senators,

Property taxes and Fees places a disparate burden on folks with limited fixed income, seniors and persons with disabilities living on SSI, whether or not they are tenents or homeowners.

Many of our elected officials clearly understand this issue, but have failed to take effective action; instead giving us a talk show with propaganda and lip service.

We should ask, and I am now you, "What effective legislation have you writen or filed that would remove this unfair disparate burden to people with disabilities living on SSI and seniors living on limited fixed income?"

Please send your response to me at the address listed below, or by e-mail.


Kathy Podgers


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