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November 16, 2012

Veterans in line for tax relief

Program will allow those who served to work off bills

AMESBURY — Over the past week, Amesbury’s veterans have been honored for their service through numerous Veterans Day events. On Tuesday night, the City Council showed its gratitude by unanimously passing a tax-relief measure that will allow veterans to work off as much as $1,000 of their annual tax bill.

The new program, which will parallel the existing tax work-off program for seniors, will allow veterans to work part-time jobs for the city in exchange for credits toward their property tax bills.

The measure was sponsored by councilors Bob Lavoie and Jim Kelcourse, who commended the city’s veterans for their sacrifices and said the bill was a way for the community to give something back. The bill was unanimously endorsed by both the council’s Ordinance and Finance committees.

Once the program is fully implemented, veterans will be able to apply for specific jobs within the city that best match their interests and skill sets. By law, those working will not be able to earn more than $1,000 a year through the program, meaning the number of hours worked will be capped at 125 hours per year and 2.4 hours per week based on the state’s current minimum wage of $8 per hour, Kelcourse said.

The bill broadly defines who is considered as a veteran. However, anyone who has been dishonorably discharged will not be eligible to participate.

Councilor Alan Neale said the fact that disabled veterans who are physically unable to work could have other people work for them to earn the tax credit is one of the best parts of the program. A similar provision is not included in the senior work-off program.

“You and I can step forward and work on behalf of the veteran if the veteran is unable to perform the work physically,” Neale said.

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