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Rebate applicants accepted before program created


May 31, 2013
By Carley Dangona

carley@thereminder.com

WEST SPRINGFIELD — The town is accepting applications for both the senior and veteran tax rebate programs — until May 31 — despite the fact that only the senior rebate program is established, as per its own website.

Links to the program can be found at www.west-springfield.ma.us in the Council on Aging and Department of Veterans' Services sections, under the heading "Tax work-off plan." A document summarizing the programs notes, "Only the Senior Citizen program is currently available. The Veterans tax program is coming soon."

On May 22, a robocall and an automated email went out to residents of West Springfield that stated, "This is Greg Neffinger, your mayor. I'm contacting you with good news. West Springfield is implementing a senior and veteran rebate program that will help further reduce property taxes for those who have done so much for our nation and to help build our community. The details for the senior and veteran rebate program can be found at www.west-springfield.ma.us or call me at 263-3041. As always, remember I have open door Thursday every week from noon to 3 p.m. so feel free to stop by the mayor's office. If you can't make those times I would be happy to set up a time to meet you. Thank you, Mayor Greg Neffinger."

In an open letter posted in the "about" section of www.gregneffinger.com, the mayor states, "As your mayor, I have worked hard to make a difference for West Side. I have cut property taxes, added more money to our town's stabilization fund, cleaned up the parks, open a new park, saved the library and senior center, passed the senior and veteran rebate program to name a few accomplishments."

In early April, the Town Council adopted the Massachusetts General Law (MGL) and established separate ordinances as groundwork for the senior and veteran tax rebate programs. Neffinger restarted the process by bringing the matter before the council. According to Kathy Bourque, council president, the senior abatement was created in 2000 at the last town meeting, but never transformed into an ordinance.

The motion to accept MGL Chapter 59 Section 5N for the veterans rebate states, "In any city or town which accepts this section, the board of selectman of a town, or in a municipality having a town council form of government, the town council or the mayor, with the approval of the city council in a city, may establish a program to allow veterans, as defined in clause forty-third of Section 7 of Chapter 4, to volunteer to provide services to that city or town."

Town Clerk Otto Frizzell said, "The law accepted at the Town Council meeting allows the town to establish a program." He stated that the adoption "opens the door" and created a foundation for the program to be created.

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