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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Milford panel OKs more senior tax relief

By Brian McCready
Milford Bureau Chief
MILFORD
— The Senior Tax Relief Committee Monday night approved an expanded tax relief plan, which would increase by 50 percent the number of seniors eligible, while adding another $300,000 in tax savings, members said.
The city now offers a $600 property tax break for single or disabled seniors with gross income of $29,800 or less, or married couples earning $36,500 or less. A total of 990 seniors participate in the senior property tax program costing the city $557,000.
The committee voted unanimously to increase the income guidelines for singles and married couples by $10,000 each. So if the Board of Aldermen adopts the recommendation, any single or disabled senior earning $39,800, or married couple earning $46,500 or less, will be eligible for a $600 property tax break.
Alderman Philip Vetro, D-4, said the Ordinance Committee would expedite the process for review and schedule a special meeting to discuss the senior tax proposal.
Committee Chairman George Amato said he was informed by the assessor’s office that increasing the income guidelines by $10,000 would allow 50 percent more seniors to qualify for the tax relief, and it would cost about an additional $300,000.
Altogether, the city would be projected to provide about 1,350 seniors almost $900,000 in tax relief.
Amato said there was talk of increasing the $600 property tax break that eligible seniors receive, but then the tax relief could soar well beyond $1 million.
“You’re in a period of where everyone is looking to cut,” Amato said. “This will be a very difficult budget year.”
In a letter signed by all members of the Senior Tax Relief Committee to aldermanic Chairman Ben Blake, D-5, the members requested he reappoint another committee after the approval of next year’s budget in May. Also, the members ask that the issue of age and residency requirements be debated.
Amato said because people are working longer, the eligibility age for senior tax relief may be pushed from 65 to 70. Also, he said someone is eligible for senior tax relief after residing just one year in Milford, and it might be prudent to amend that to five years.
Amato said Blake and Mayor James L. Richetelli Jr. have expressed a desire to implement additional senior tax relief in the short-term.
Joseph Prisco, a senior tax relief advocate, said this was the “best plan thus far,” and he is all for increasing the age and residency requirements.
“They raised the income guidelines and that’s a start,” Prisco said.
Committee member Kerri Rowland said that it was the “major consideration of this committee to balance the needs of all taxpayers with the needs of some of the most vulnerable seniors.”

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4 Comments:

Anonymous Mark L. - Milford said...

I feel strongly that we need to protect our seniors, but these are some fundamental erros with this committees final report, namely what is in this deal for the young of Milford that willnow have to shoulder the extra tax burden now transferred to them. At the very least for this the city should look at:
1) Require that seniors list their homes as deed restricted during the time they receive these funds. This means these houses can colunt toward getting Milford off the 8-30g housing list.
2) Any home with an In-Law apratment is not eligible, as the home is shared.
3) The only name on the property deed should be the senior in question receiving the discount.
4) Many towns require seniors to reapply every year for tax relief.
5) I do not agree with the raising of the income by $10,000. There are "families" with little ones making $46,000 in Milford with NO relief. Not fair to them.
6) The increases that this property would have had to have paid should be in a running accrual and upon the senior sell their home when either moving or upon their death the city would recoop these funds.

In the end,you cannot have your cake and eat it too. Again, I am for the Relief, but there must be in this for the young and working poor. Wehave no relief and no safety net. They need to consider the above for the sake of Milford as a whole. If not, it is just more vote pandering.

March 20, 2008 at 8:07 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mark - I agree with all your comments. The City cannot keep giving things away and then make the young and middle class pay for it. How many vehicles with Florida Tags are in Milford - these people are not paying their vehicle tax already. These tags need to be investigated - as I see them in town, and many on water front/view properties year round. That is against the law, not to mention Insurance Fraud. Several yrs. ago this was brought to the Mayors attention - he has done nothing about this and back then, said it was to difficult to monitor. Is it? Think not!
Also another form of tax relief for Sr's would be to have the sewer tax based on usage - not a flat fee. Sr's usually do not use as much water as a family of 4, just think of the number of showers, loads of laundry and dishwasher use. This tax is not fair - yet the Mayor said it is the easiest way to handle. Can he only handle the easy stuff?

March 20, 2008 at 9:01 AM 
Anonymous mark l - milford said...

Thanks for your note. Again, we all agree that Seniors need some relief, but at what cost. One thing missing from my list is "If the senior must have this as their only residence and a second home elsewhere would disqualify them". After all we are trying to help them STAY in their homes.
We also nneed to be aware of the fact that most of the Comittee investigating this are seniors. Talk about the Fox watching the Henhouse.

March 21, 2008 at 9:51 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Mark. I am pleased that a plan was created to assist those elderly of Milford that need such. I am so disappointed that the Aldermen approved something that can have significant financial impact on the residents in Milford as time goes by. Most definitely this was pushed through without enough thought about future impact as well as lack of preparation to recoup monies utilized to assist the elderly.

April 13, 2008 at 5:30 PM 

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