CHARLESTOWN - Charlestown residents struggling to pay their property taxes should know that the town’s government is trying to help them, but are going to have to be patient as it figures out how.
The town council voted not to form an ad hoc committee to review the town’s tax exemption list and the town’s tax code at the regular scheduled meeting on Monday night because the council-members could not agree on who should be on it.
A motion presented by Councilman Dan Slattery to form a committee that included the tax assessor, budget commission, town administrator, a council liaison and the town treasurer sparked a discussion among the council, which was missing Councilwoman Lisa DiBello.
Councilman Greg Avedisian moved to amend the motion to include five members of the Charlestown general public in the committee. He said that the people would submit their names to be on the committee, and ultimately be chosen by the council. The amended motion was seconded by Councilwoman Marjorie Frank, who said that she wants to see the committee be more inclusive.
“I would like to see just five citizens on the committee,” said Frank. “I have to think that’s the fairest way.”
However, both Slattery and Council President Tom Gentz preferred to see the committee in the manner that it was originally proposed, and cast dissenting votes for the amended motion. Slattery and Gentz both said that they feared adding citizens of the public to the committee could potentially spark a heated and emotional debate reminiscent of class warfare, citing the Dec. 12, 2011 meeting, when summer Charlestown residents came out in droves to vehemently oppose a homestead tax exemption proposed by the Charlestown Democratic Town Committee (CDTC). The proposal was killed by the council that night.
After the amended motion was defeated 2-2, Slattery’s original motion of a committee without members of the public was also defeated by the same vote, with Avedisian and Frank dissenting.
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