Local Government and Politics, News

Legislator wants to preserve memorials

LYNN — A proposal on Beacon Hill would allow taxpayers to donate a portion of their local taxes to pay for the upkeep of veterans memorials.

The measure, introduced by state Rep. Donald Wong (R-Saugus), and approved unanimously by the House this week, gives communities the option to adopt the measure.

“Raising money to erect these monuments to our heroes was one thing, but no one considered how to pay for their maintenance,” Wong said. “Many of our monuments are in disarray and we want all of our veterans to be proud of the memorials we’ve built.”

Under the bill, a check-off box would be printed on real estate and excise tax bills for donations to maintain municipal veterans memorials. The measure must win approval in the Senate and be signed by the governor.

Michael Sweeney, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan and director of Lynn Veterans Services, praised the idea.

He said the while the city’s veterans memorials are in good shape, he would spend the money to build memorials to recent wars.

“We would be able to use the money to create memorials for Iraq, Afghanistan, Gulf War, and the Global War on Terrorism vets,” he said. “We are in talks with lots of people about maybe creating a Veterans Memorial Park somewhere in the city and the money from the checkoff could go to that.”

Lynn raises $6.5 million for the excise tax and $127 million from its real estate taxes. It’s unclear how much would be collected for vet memorials clean up or construction, but it could be substantial.

City Councilor Jay Walsh said the monument of World War I veteran John Francis Austin, the namesake of Austin Square at Summer and Boston streets, has had its bronze plaque missing for the longest time.

“It was probably stolen and sold for cash,” he said. ‘I didn’t know about this legislation, but it’s definitely needed.”

State Rep. Daniel Cahill (D-Lynn) said Wong’s bill represents a thoughtful solution to a problem.

“It would allow residents to express their gratitude to veterans and people who served this country by donating money to preserve the moments that are a testament to their sacrifice for our country,” he said.

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