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Alderman says senior citizens who can't pay taxes should be removed from homes

A city alderman in New Hampshire is defending himself after he said that older residents who can't pay their tax bills should be removed from their homes.

“I've got an 85-year-old woman that lives across the street and she won't give up her house. She's sitting on $350,000 and she can't afford it anymore,” said Alderman Chris Herbert.

The comments were caught on tape during last week's committee meeting. Alderman Chris Herbert was discussing the major budget challenges Manchester is facing when he made the suggestion.

“We need to get new people in and occupy those houses. We can't be run by the elderly,” he said.

In Manchester, 9 percent of the residents are senior citizens, and along with an aging population, city leaders are facing declining revenues.

“It's a thorn in the senior citizen’s side,” said Terry Martineau.

She and her husband paid taxes on their Manchester home for decades and at 82 years old, she said they deserve the tax break they receive from the city.

Martineau was not impressed with Herbert’s comments.

“I think he ought to be spanked, myself, but that's a grandmother speaking,” she said.

Herbert told Boston 25 News he's already received a flogging from the public.

“I did a lousy job, I made a mistake, I said it,” he said.

He also said that the analogy was a poor choice of words.

“I have never advocated for throwing elderly people out of their homes, I mean, it just got weird,” he said.

But Herbert stands by his belief - that the city needs to find new sources of revenue, which could mean eliminating some tax breaks.

He said his controversial statements did have one benefit - it started a conversation about how to really fix the city's multimillion dollar budget gap.

“Let's talk about that little old lady and let's get some systems up and running that avoid that situation,” he said.