Joe’s Journal

A nugget of good news

Ramblings from an old scribbler
Wed, 08/10/2022 - 7:00am

    Are you reeling as the TV talking heads and internet trolls hammer us with a torrent of awful news?

    I am a news junky. But I get a headache from the constant drone of alleged experts dissecting the Capitol Insurrection, the southern border crisis, European war, Chinese saber rattling, abortion election fraud, inflation, and a laptop that may have belonged to the President’s wayward son.

    Then a nugget catches my eye, and, the sun comes out, and I feel things might be OK.

    No, it has nothing to with the Washington D.C. circus.

    I saw a story claiming that somebody in Augusta did something good for those of us that 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 income, estate, property, inventory, gasoline taxes, etc. I think I can speak for us all when I say we would rather avoid them all.

    On the federal level, no matter if you root for the blue team or red, we can agree that some of our tax dollars fund good stuff, like helping out 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 couple of years ago when California agriculture officials spent $213,000 spent to study bovine methane emissions. That is right. They funded a study of cow farts. I am sure it was important to someone, but it puzzles me.

    Just for the record, I am not making this up.

    Our local property taxes pay for local projects like schools, town roads, street lights, snow plowing, and ditch maintenance. That tax also pays for our local police department and helps pay some of the costs for our great volunteer firefighters.

    But, and you knew there would be a but, as we see costs go up, the total amount raised via property taxes usually increases. That means our property tax bills go up too.

    I know this is a very simplified version of this topic. Our local leaders rely on additional funding from the state and the feds. Our local honchos, like Julia Latter, the Boothbay Harbor town manager, and Boothbay Town manager, Dan Bryer, scramble to find alternative revenue sources.

    For example, Julia told me she is seeking grants to fund a proposal to replace our street lights with the LED version and install electric vehicle charging stations. Good idea.

    In Augusta, the Maine Legislature funds special interests seeking a cut of tax revenue a public safety, schools, corrections, universities, public safety, and the rest of the usual laundry list of worthy and not-so-worthy projects.

    But this year, Augusta did something for the old folks back home. They figured out a way to freeze Grandpa's property taxes.

    Here is the deal. If you are over 65, a permanent resident of Maine, owned and lived in a Maine home for 10 years, and are eligible for a homestead exemption, your property taxes will be frozen at the current level.

    Now, if you are one of those lucky seniors who switched your permanent resident status to Florida to avoid Maine taxes, this program leaves you out.

    But for senior homeowners who claim residence in Maine, I will say it once more, Augusta froze property taxes for elderly Maine homeowners.

    This program is so unusual that my computer hiccuped, and spell check gave me an error message. But it is true.

    To enroll in this program, fill out a form (it is easy) and turn it in at the town office.

    Then your next year's property taxes will remain at this year’s amount. The catch is you have to file every year.

    Now, if the unusual happens, and (Heavens to Murgatroyd), the town 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 am sure everyone in the state executive and legislative branches will take credit for it.

    Hurray for them all.

    But for once, the folks in Augusta did something for the old folks back home.

    On behalf of those Maine homeowners suffering from TMB, I offer my thanks.