SHIRLEY -- Four years ago, Assessor Ron Marchetti said, his board asked the selectmen to expand the Senior Tax Workoff Program. Selectmen rounded up a group to talk about it "and the journey began," he said.
Today, the program has grown from 4 to 25 participants, and he considers it "one of the best around," Marchetti told the selectmen Monday night.
The program allows qualified seniors to work a certain number of hours for the town in return for a break on their property taxes.
Tracing the process as well as the genesis, Marchetti said the selectmen's administrative assistant, Kathleen Rocco, administers the program and assembles key people to make recommendations to the board.
Part of the job is matching potential participants skills to departmental needs, Marchetti explained, so Rocco talked to department heads. "Her preliminary analysis showed that we get back twice the value" of the money spent to support the program, he said, which comes from a designated tax "overlay" the assessors set aside for the purpose.
For example, one retired professional who participates in the tax workoff program generates payback of $100 per hour for the specialized work she does, while the town's investment is just $8 per hour.
"It has become such a benefit to the community," Marchetti said of the program, and he predicted it would get even better as it continues to evolve.
Given its success, Selectman David Swain asked if the assessors plan to set aside more money for the program.
The assessors have discussed it, Marchetti responded, and would consider doing so if and when the selectmen ask them to do so, "based on new needs." The well-managed tax overlay account can support it, he said.
For now, it's worth the expense and then some. "The $20,000 we put in now returns $50,000 worth of work, he said.
Interested residents may obtain information from the selectmen's office. Participation in the program opens in January each year.