To the Editor: The proposed scheme to tax full-time residents differently from part-time residents is controversial and heavily criticized. (“Tax Break for Stockbridge Residents at the Expense of Seasonal Homeowners? Here’s a Look at the Possibility Moving Forward,” Eagle, August 26.)
Here is my suggestion.
First of all, what is the problem? Long-time residents who are older often have fixed incomes. Their property is a family treasure that they cannot simply sell and move elsewhere. The taxes have increased significantly since they purchased the property and continue to increase each year.
A suggestion: For a resident, full-time or part-time, who has paid property tax for at least 20 years and has reached the age of 65, taxation is frozen regardless of its current amount.
The figures, residence of 20 years and age of 65, could be adjusted without changing the concept. What if the owner makes major improvements (not repairs) that would normally increase the tax assessment? The fixed assessment should be increased by the amount calculated using the rate then in effect, but thereafter remain fixed at the new level. What happens if the property is damaged, for example, by fire, and even after repairs its value is reduced so that the tax assessment should normally drop? I do not know.
Okay, finance committee. Your ball.
Ed Dartford, Stockbridge