2017-11-02 / Letters

Candidate would explore matter if on council

To the editor:

A motion and order regarding the Senior Volunteer Work program was presented to the council for approval May 22. It was approved. Prior to the meeting, the council and city administration were presented the materials listed below by Barbara Colman:  Property tax exemption for volunteers: https://www.cga. ct.gov/2002/rpt/2002-R-0722.htm;  Tax foundation, a close look at Maine’s property tax work off program: https://taxfoundation.org/close-look-mainesproperty tax-work-program/.  The 190th general court of the common wealth of Massachusetts, property tax liability reduced in exchange for volunteer services, persons over the age of 60: https:// malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleIX/ Chapter59/Section5K. The fact is the program was not properly administrated for years. Barbara Colman presented the materials to the council. Ms. Colman was concerned about all our citizens in Saco and especially the individuals participating in the program.

If city administrator decided to still bring the motion and order to the council that evening for a vote, Ms. Colman, as a councilor, would have asked to table the item. She would have requested further research. She would have explained her position to the full council and prior to the meeting sent the above documentation for full disclosure and discussion to the council. Below are some of the impacts for failure to stop the process that evening:  Participants will have to pay to the city the FICA/ Medicare portion of what is considered taxable income on the $750 received for the time they “volunteered,” which really means the individual worked because it is owed to the IRS. Ms. Colman has documentation verifying this information by the city’s auditing firm RKO. The amount participants will be required to reimburse the city to cover the FICA/Medicare taxes are $57.40 per year. The city will have to pay in the same amount per participant. Up to 40 individuals can take part in the program. The matching amount owed by the city to the IRS for three years (2014, 2015, 2016) is $6,888. This is not a small chunk of change and this figure doesn’t include interest and penalties. This figure is based on 40 participants for three years. These same senior citizens will have to report this to the IRS, to any state or federal programs they may receive benefits from such as food stamps, MaineCare, etc. What is referred to as a tax abatement of $750 is actually income. It will be considered a lump sum payment. It will have an impact on any of the individuals receiving a benefit such as food stamps. These senior citizens will have to repay the state for benefits received because it will be considered an overpayment. Barbara Colman is not circumventing the issue but was being proactive. Now an issue has arisen because of how this one motion and order was approved without further research. It has become time consuming and costly to resolve. Ms. Colman thinks strategically about the impact of items to the citizens when presented materials. What she wants for all citizens of Saco is to have the city follow proper policies, program and procedures. Barbara Colman is not afraid to ask questions, present information to the administration and seek answers to questions herself. As a council member, Ms. Colman, can have the extra advantage to table an item on the agenda before it cost citizens or the city additional time, energy and money.

Janette Petersen Saco

Return to top