Window closes soon for seniors seeking Cumberland tax break

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CUMBERLAND — Residents who qualify for the town’s senior property tax assistance program have until Aug. 7 to apply.

Returning for a second year, the initiative has been slightly tweaked from its 2016 incarnation. Residents must now be at least 70, not 62, to be eligible. The town increased the required age since the money needed each year to support the program would be a challenge to sustain, Town Manager Bill Shane said July 20.

Eligible residents must also have a combined household income of no more than $75,060 – up from $69,000 last year – based on an increase in the Portland metropolitan area’s median family income.

The less income a household earns, the greater the rebate, up to $750.

Qualifying residents must also have a home in Cumberland and have lived in town at least a decade.

The rebate is “always based on if we have the money to budget for the program,” Town Clerk Tammy O’Donnell said in an interview July 20. “Hopefully we always will have it, but it’s not guaranteed.”

The town-based program, which the Town Council approved in December 2015, was triggered after a poll of residents by the town’s Aging in Place Committee showed the main concern of Cumberland’s seniors was property tax relief. The council opted to put surplus funds toward the program.

In the day since posting information on the program July 19, “we probably have gotten already 20-25 phone calls,” O’Donnell said, adding about 150 residents received rebates last year – almost all who applied.

Residents can download an application from cumberlandmaine.com, or pick one up at Town Hall, 290 Tuttle Road.

Applicants are asked to contact staff accountant Pam Dunn at 829-2205 or plunn@cumberlandmaine.com after completing the application to schedule a meeting to complete the process. Eligible seniors must provide a 2016 tax return and a form of identification. Renters must also provide a copy of their lease.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.