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Selectmen mull SMSP changes to ease access

February 24, 2011
STURBRIDGE — Selectmen discussed potential changes to improve the Senior Municipal Service Program (SMSP) at its meeting Tuesday night, Feb. 22, attempting to identify ways to modify the qualifying criteria and enable more seniors to access the program.

The SMSP was created through the approval of Article 14 of the 2000 Annual Town Meeting. It allows for qualifying seniors to work in various community departments at minimum wage and have their earnings credited to their tax bills in order to receive up to a $500 reduction, with an allowance of an additional $250 abatement contingent on fund availability. However, in seven out of the 10 years the program has been active, the town saw more than $6,500 left over in surplus funds. In five of those years the surplus funds exceeded $8,000, and in 2010 the figure was $6,112.09. Some selectmen have said they feel these numbers are too high, especially considering the fact that they allocate $10,000 to the SMSP each year.

"Over the life of the program there has been a total of $73,000 in unallocated funds," said Board of Selectmen Chairman Thomas Creamer. "These figures reflect the shortcomings of the current program criteria and the reason the Board has been anxious to modify the qualifying criteria."

For more on this story, please see tomorrow's Southbridge Evening News.

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