Tough economic times have taken a toll on the Needham property tax relief fund, as donations and award money have both decreased in the past year.
This year, the Elderly and Disabled Taxation Aid Committee gave 37 awards to assist seniors and disabled residents with their taxes. The average award was about $380.
That’s down from last year, when the committee awarded 36 awards at an average of $438 each, according to a memorandum on the issue.
“We received 42 applications, we gave 37 awards,” said Needham Treasurer/Collector Evelyn Poness at a recent Board of Selectmen meeting.
Poness added that only people who did not meet the criteria to qualify did not receive awards. “But everyone who did meet the criteria did receive something,” she said.
Last fiscal year the town took in $15,555 in donatioins for the tax assistance fund. As of March 16 this fiscal year the toital was $9,269.
Although town officials hope more people will contribute to the fund, they are not allowed to use town mailings to solicit donations.
“I think we do need to look at maybe some creative ways, and I don’t have the answer right now as to what they are, to market this more,” said Selectmen Jerry Wasserman.
“Granted one of the problems we have is the economy lowering the number of contributions, and that means we need to work a little bit harder,” Wasserman added.
Individuals who wish to contribute to the fund can send checks to the department, making the checks out to the Town of Needham Elderly and Disabled Taxation Fund.
Jessica Rudis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.