Councillor Suggests Exempting Some Property Taxes for Elderly

By Seth Daniel

City Councillor Giovanni Recupero returned to the floor after being sick for some time, and entered the Chambers with a bang, proposing an order that those over 70 and owning a single-family home would get 100 percent reduction on taxes.

The matter was rebuffed substantially with a 1-9 vote, with Recupero being the lone ‘yes’ vote.

Recupero proposed giving a full abatement to owner-occupants of single-family homes who are over the age of 70. His proposal would have asked the State Legislature to allow the measure under a Home Rule Petition.

“There are other parts of our state that give 100 percent abatements,” he said. “Why not try this out? All we can do is try. This is for the little guy. Why can’t we give someone a break who spent their entire lives in their house? I say we should give them a break.”

However, his colleagues disagreed with the measure.

“This is something we’re simply not allowed to do,” said Councillor Dan Cortell. “We voted down a Home Rule Petition recently because it had no chance of passing at the state level…This will make a very good headline, but it’s not a good idea…This is a little too far. This goes in the category of election year agenda items. This has no legs.”

Councillor Matt Frank said he thinks others should qualify for the break also.

“My concern is we have all these other 71 year olds who don’t live in single-family homes,” he said. “If the goal is to help people over 70, this doesn’t even do that…You can’t always be the person who says, ‘Here, take everything.’…We’re robbing Peter to pay Paul.”

Council President Leo Robinson said he believed it might open the City up to a taxpayer lawsuit, which requires only 10 to sign a petition.

Afterward, Recupero said his investigation showed it would only affect about 25 to 30 homeowners, and wouldn’t be a drain on the City’s finances. He said he looked into other areas, including on Cape Cod, where homeowners are given 100 percent tax abatements during the part of the year when they aren’t living there (generally the winter months).

He said he did run it by a few state legislators and they thought it was an interesting concept.

“All I can do is try,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with trying to help elderly people with their taxes. Other places have done this in slightly different forms and we could be the first to do it this way.”

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