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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Milford panel OKs expanded tax relief for elderly residents

By Brian McCready
Milford Bureau Chief
— After a brief debate, the Board of Aldermen’s Ordinance Committee voted to adopt an expanded senior tax relief plan Monday evening, which will allow from 450 to 1,000 more seniors to qualify for the program.
The city offers a $600 property tax break for single or disabled seniors earning $29,800 or less or married couples earning $36,500 or less. A total of 990 seniors participate in the senior property tax program, which costs the city $557,000.
The expanded tax relief the Ordinance Committee approved will result in another $300,000 to be shouldered by the remaining taxpayers. The committee endorsed increasing the income guidelines for both singles and married couples by $10,000 each.
Ordinance Committee Chairman James Patterson, D-1, and member Jessica Blacketter, D-4, voted to approve the expanded senior tax relief plan, while member Vincent Ditchkus Jr., R-3, voted against the proposal. Ditchkus wanted to see the plan end after one year so tangible numbers concerning the impact on taxpayers would be fully known.
But Patterson and Blacketter declined to support Ditchkus’ proposal. Ditchkus spoke repeatedly about his concerns that the expanded tax relief would unduly burden the remaining city families, especially young families who are having a difficult time staying in Milford.
“Basically, you are increasing taxes on everyone else by doing this,” Ditchkus said.
Blacketter said everyone is aware that the burden is shifting under this proposal, but she said Republican Mayor James L. Richetelli Jr. pitched his own plan that would have cost taxpayers $2 million to $3 million. She said this proposal will cost the taxpayers about $300,000.
In February, aldermanic Chairman Ben Blake, D-5, created a Senior Tax Relief Committee in an effort to develop a senior tax plan that could be adopted in time for next year’s budget. The Senior Tax Relief Committee, in turn, was charged with advising the Ordinance Committee.
The committee’s chairman, George Amato, told committee members Monday night that, in the future, the city may want to increase the age for seniors to qualify from 65 to 70.
Also, he said the residency requirement could be increased from one to five years to ensure the person has made a contribution to the community.
“This will help 400 to 450 people who are desperately in need of assistance,” Amato said. “This helps people who probably just miss qualifying.”
Patterson and Blacketter thanked Amato and his committee for their hard work, and Richetelli also praised members for getting so much accomplished in a short span of time.
During the public hearing portion of the meeting at City Hall, which attracted 30 residents, just two residents spoke on the proposal both in support.
Joseph Prisco, a longtime senior tax relief advocate, said the proposal is a “start for helping the senior citizens.”
“They need it,” Prisco added. “I’m very happy they were concerned for the seniors who need the help.”



Anonymous Mark l - Milford said...

Without a way to recoop these funds when the home is sold at some point in the future this is money down the toilet for the young of Milford who will shoulder the burden of carrying additional taxes. I agree that Seniors need relief, but the young should not have to help featherbed the nest of their hiers. Give them Releif, but accrue the difference in the frozen funds annually for future repayment to the city. At $300,000 to $600,000 annually in senior relief, let's just average this for arguement sake to $450,000. In 5 years this annual amount will be $2,225,000 and in 10 years the amount balloons to $4.5 million in relief, while all the time home values are maintained or increase due to the additional spending of the young. We need repayment without a doubt. The young have is tough these days as well. I can imagine others will want relief as well like Single Parents, Adults with no children, Married Families with one income, etc. In the end hwo will pay to keep the city running. Thomas Paine said it best "Don't Tax you, Don't Tax me, Tax That Fellow behind the Tree".

April 1, 2008 at 4:01 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great Idea!

April 3, 2008 at 12:50 PM 

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