MELROSE — On July 6, 2022, Governor Backer signed into law a bill filed by Representative Kate Lipper-Garabedian (D-Melrose) and Senator Jason Lewis (D-Winchester) to establish a means-tested senior citizen property tax exemption in the City of Melrose. The new law responds to the housing stability needs of low-income seniors in Melrose by slightly shifting their property tax burden to other residential property owners. An Act Authorizing the City of Melrose to Establish a Means Tested Senior Citizen Property Tax Exemption will support low-income seniors who are long-standing residents in Melrose by slightly shifting the property tax burden to other residential property owners.

Introduced by Mayor Brodeur and unanimously approved by the Melrose City Council, the new law aims to provide important support to many of the City’s seniors. Last session, Representative Lipper-Garabedian and Senator Lewis ushered through enactment of a similar home rule petition proposed by the Town of Wakefield, also a community in the Thirty-Second Middlesex District. In the year after the enactment of Wakefield’s bill, the program brought financial relief to more than 100 senior households in the community immediately to Melrose’s north.

“​​The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced how critical – and, for far too many, tenuous – housing stability is,” said Representative Lipper-Garabedian. “As Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs, in the course of many meetings and legislative hearings, this point has been underscored in the context of the Commonwealth’s aging population. Indeed, a study of the pandemic’s impact by the Gerontology Institute of UMass Boston found that more than one-third of Massachusetts residents 60 or older (an estimated 584,000 people) experienced loss of household employment income as a direct result of COVID-19. I am proud to partner with our local officials to enact policies like H3766 that respond to the housing needs of our senior population.”

“I’m pleased to do what’s right for Melrose’s seniors,” said Senator Jason Lewis. “By allowing for certain exemptions on property tax for senior residents and expanding upon the circuit breaker income tax credit, this bill will ease the financial pinch of today’s economic realities for some of our most vulnerable residents. I want to thank Mayor Brodeur for originating this effort, and the Melrose City Council for working diligently to support this bill’s passage and get it to the State House. We couldn’t have passed this bill without Representative Lipper-Garabedian’s shepherding it through the House.”

“I’m thankful to the Melrose City Council, Representative Lipper-Garabedian and Senator Lewis for their steadfast support and efforts to help the City of Melrose better support our older residents,” said Melrose Mayor Paul Brodeur. “The financial conditions some of them face present a real day to day challenge. Many are living on a fixed income, forcing them to delay retirement or make other difficult choices to stay in their homes. The passage of this bill, which I first introduced to the City Council shortly after taking office in 2019, represents my commitment to relieving our longest standing Melrose residents from these financial burdens.”