Are you in shock as TV talking heads and internet trolls hammer us with a torrent of terrible news?
I am a news junkie. But my head hurts from the constant buzz of alleged pundits dissecting the Capitol insurrection, the southern border crisis, the European war, the sound of the Chinese saber, the abortion voter fraud, the inflation and a laptop that might have belonged to the president’s wayward son.
Then a nugget catches my eye, and the sun comes up, and I feel like things could be fine.
No, it has nothing to do with the Washington DC circus.
I saw a story claiming that someone in Augusta did something good for those of us who suffer from TMB (Too Many Birthdays).
It has to do with property taxes.
Now we all pay taxes. We pay sales, excise, state and federal taxes, estate, property, inventory, gasoline, and more. I think I can speak for all of us when I say we’d all rather avoid them.
At the federal level, it doesn’t matter if you support Team Blue or Team Red, we can agree that a portion of our tax dollars fund good things, like helping our neighbors hammered by floods, fires, and storms.
We understand the need to pay and feed the men and women who keep us safe at home and abroad.
However, we can all point to other programs that seem strange. Take the program from a few years ago, when California agriculture officials spent $213,000 to study bovine methane emissions. It’s true. They funded a study on cow farts. I’m sure it was important to someone, but it puzzles me.
Just for info, I’m not making this up.
Our local property taxes pay for local projects like schools, municipal roads, streetlights, snow removal and ditch maintenance. This tax also pays for our local police department and helps pay for some of the costs for our excellent volunteer firefighters.
But, and you knew there would be a but, as we see costs increase, the total amount collected through property taxes generally increases. This means that our property tax bills are also going up.
I know this is a very simplified version of this topic. Our local leaders rely on additional state and federal funding. Our local honchos, like Boothbay Harbor Town Manager Julia Latter and Boothbay Town Manager Dan Bryer, are scrambling to find alternative sources of income.
For example, Julia told me that she was looking for grants to finance a proposal to replace our streetlights with the LED version and to install charging stations for electric vehicles. Good idea.
In Augusta, the Maine Legislature funds special interests seeking reduced tax revenue for public safety, schools, corrections, universities, public safety, and the rest of the usual long list of worthy projects. and less worthy.
But this year, Augusta did something for the old people at home. They found a way to freeze Grandpa’s property taxes.
Here’s the deal. If you are over 65, a permanent resident of Maine, have owned and lived in a Maine home for 10 years, and qualify for a Homestead Exemption, your property taxes will be frozen at current.
Now, if you’re one of those lucky seniors who transferred their permanent resident status to Florida to avoid Maine taxes, this program has you covered.
But for senior homeowners claiming Maine residency, again, Augusta has frozen property taxes for senior Maine homeowners.
This program is so unusual that my computer crashed and the spell check gave me an error message. But it’s true.
To register for this program, fill out a form (it’s easy) and submit it to the town hall.
Then, your property taxes for next year will remain at this year’s amount. The catch is that you have to file every year.
Now, if the unusual happens, and (Heavens to Murgatroyd) the city fathers and mothers decide to lower our property taxes, eligible seniors will pay the new lower amount.
I have no idea who invented and supported this program. I’m sure everyone in the executive and legislative branches of the state will take credit for it.
Hooray for them all.
But for once, the people of Augusta have done something for the old people back home.
On behalf of those Maine owners suffering from TMB, I offer my thanks.