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No Refunds, No Refills, No Retakes

March 7, 2006

Despite Mr. Scott’s impassioned plea for a refund of overpaid taxes to senior citizens, the Village of Croton-on-Hudson took refuge in the fact that tax monies by law cannot be refunded.

See the following letter:

TO: The Mayor and the Board of Trustees

In a recent column in The Gazette, I called attention to a serious oversight in Croton’s administration of the State’s Real Property Tax Law. A copy of this column is attached for the record.

For several years, Croton has been incorrectly calculating the tax exemptions of eligible senior citizens and thus overcharging them in their taxes.

My news story resulted in a flood of messages from two unhappy groups: One group expressed gratitude to me for uncovering this situation. I strongly urge the Village to do the right thing for these seniors victimized by the Village. Recalculate their tax obligations and make restitution. Not to do so would be irresponsible and would hardly attract new residents. Rather, it would make Croton “a village without a heart,” a pariah among communities and further increase the low repute in which politicians are held.

Messages from the second group are also reason for concern. These seniors reported they were unaware such a program existed. This suggests a gross failure on the Village’s part in communicating information to seniors about benefits to which they might be eligible.

I urge the Village to review its practices and to consider designating a Village employee, perhaps in the Recreation Department, to be an ombudsman for senior citizens. According to the 2000 Census, there were more than a thousand persons in this village 65 years of age and older. Do we know who they are? How many are living alone? How many are incapacitated and housebound? Are all seniors acquainted with the benefits for which they may be eligible? In this so-called Age of Communication, if we don’t know the answers to these questions, shame on us.

Primitive societies universally respect, revere and treasure their elder members. Is this community so busy getting and spending that it now must sweep under the rug the generation that grimly endured a devastating depression, fought and won a global war and made this bountiful country the envy of the world? Do not, I beg you, break faith with us.

— Robert Scott

But, there is no law, according to Mr. Scott, against offering tax credits to senior citizens against future taxes.

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