EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

March 23, 2014

Letter:

Andover seniors need tax relief to stay in town

To the editor:

During a recent candidate’s forum the two individuals running for selectman expressed very different views concerning financial relief for Andover’s taxpaying senior population.

Perhaps it would help both candidates, as well as Andover’s voting citizens, to best deal with this issue by putting some facts on the table. Recent studies by the Council on Aging Board have yielded the following:

— The demographics of Andover’s population is shifting. Using 2010 census data, the overall population has increased 26 percent to 33,201 people over the past three decades. Over the same time period the population of seniors 60 or older has increased 78 percent to 6,447 people. Today one out of three Andover residents is 50 or older.

— In addition 40 percent of home owners in Andover are over 60.

— The most recent spending profiles in Andover indicate that 56 percent of the town’s budget is spent to educate Andover’s 6,200 school-age children. This amounts to approximately $15,000 per child per year.

— The portion of Andover’s total budget that is spent on seniors 60 or over amounts to approximately $99 per senior per year. This is 0.5 percent of Andover’s annual operating budget.

The reality is that if the town continues on its current spending track, fixed-income senior citizens will be forced to sell their homes and leave Andover. This is already happening. It is grossly unfair and unjust to not accommodate older people in the most vulnerable parts of their lives by easing their tax obligations since they have already have contributed so much to making Andover what it is today. And, I might add, they did so gladly!

What happens when senior citizens are forced to sell their homes because of the ever-increasing real estate tax burden? The likelihood is that they will leave town, and their home will be bought by a family with 2.5 young children. Looking at a 12-year period when these children might be in school, the bill for the town, using today’s $15,000 per year per student figure, will amount to approximately $450,000.

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