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Senior tax relief proposal headed to Norwalk Council

Th Common Council may vote on a tax break for senior Tuesday night.
Th Common Council may vote on a tax break for senior Tuesday night.

NORWALK, Conn. – Low-income Norwalk seniors would be eligible for increased property tax relief under a change that is expected to be voted on Tuesday by the Common Council.

The proposal, which was approved by the Ordinance Committee on Tuesday, is expected to cost the city $369,753, according to papers provided to the Council. Seniors age 65 and older who have an income of up to $38,700, in what is referred to as Tier 1, would see the maximum credit raise from $1,150 to $1,265. The maximum credit would not change for those in Tier 2, seniors with an income of $38,701 to $47,600.

The Elderly Tax Relief Program is tied to the state’s income limits. It’s expected that the change in Tier 1 would cost the city $467,492. Since the maximum income for Tier 1 at $38,700 is $5,000 more than what Tier 1 is defined at currently, it’s expected that 150 households would shift from Tier 2 to Tier 1. The cost for Tier 2 is therefore estimated to be $97,739 less than what it has been.

The maximum credit for Tier 2 would remain at $750. However, it’s possible that the pool of money available for issuing credits for Tier 2 may drop. If the total tax relief granted exceeds .5 percent of the total property tax assessed in the previous year, then the Tier 1 benefits would be subtracted from the total amount of relief available. What’s left would then be divided up between everyone in Tier 2.

The period for applying would be Feb. 1 to May 15 of odd-numbered years. The city expects to advertise the program to eligible seniors. That would include pamphlets in the tax collector’s office and outreach to the Norwalk Senior Center.

Comments

9 responses to “Senior tax relief proposal headed to Norwalk Council”

  1. anon

    @Nancy, confused- Tier 1 seniors will get an increased deductions but it is possible that Tier 2 seniors many get a decrease or even no deduction at all?

  2. independent voice

    I thought I’d re post a prior comment from last week due to the relevancy of this article.

    Recently, I came across former Mayor Esposito’s letter to Norwalk citizens (circa 1997 -1998) and thought I’d share. I became nostalgic after reading it given how much taxpayers and the city’s grand list have suffered under current administrations. The disciplined approach to taxes and spending contained in the letter is exactly what is needed for the city and should be a must read for all current and future mayoral candidates and administrations.

    Here is the letter:

    “Dear Fellow Norwalker:

    As we begin the budget process last Fall my administration sought to build upon its achievement of four consecutive years without a tax increase by extending this mark by one year. In November the Charter revision was approved which among other things provided the Common Council with the ability to establish a budgetary cap. As a result of this additional Council authority, my administration and the Board of Estimate and Taxation embarked on a collaborative effort with the Council that culminated in the adoption of a budget that preserves the string of fiscal years in which taxes have remained flat.

    As part of our continued effort to constrain taxes the adopted budget contains the reduction of thirty budgeted positions excluding education, police and fire services. Over the last ten years, the City’s non-education and non-sworn personnel have been reduced from 523 positions to 360 representing a decrease of 163 positions or 31%. My administration, will continue to work on improving services while searching for ways to reduce costs and enhance non-tax services.

    I have once again provided an illustration of how your local tax dollars are spent as outlined in the table on the reverse side of this letter. This example is based upon an average residential tax bill in the fourth service district. In reviewing the allocation, you will notice that approximately 73% or $2,419 of your dollars will be used to provide police, fire and education services.

    In my past letters I have argued that if we were successful in holding the line on taxes Norwalk citizens would reap the benefits through an expanding grand list. This strategy is beginning to pay dividends as evidenced by the City’s recent grand list growth. In addition, the City continues to attract new businesses and jobs while retaining many of our existing enterprises.

    In closing, I am proud to report that, as evidenced by our strong bond rating, Norwalk continues to be financially solid and that by working together as a community we can successfully address any challenge. It has been a privilege to serve you as Mayor and I look forward to serving you in the future. As always, I welcome your questions, comments and suggestions.

    Thank you for your continued support and assistance.

    Very truly yours,
    Frank J. Esposito
    Mayor”

    The letter also reminded me of a recent conversation I had with a senior and current resident here. She recently decided to rent instead of remain in her home despite facing a nearly $150,000 capital loss on her property. She mentioned her breaking point and decision to sell came after a visit to city hall where she inquired about her multi-year rising tax bill despite no appreciation on her property. In so many words what she was told, “Do you know how we determine taxes in Norwalk? We simply look at what we need and raise everyone’s taxes to cover and you should always expect your taxes to increase.” I sympathized for her and wondered what her destiny would have been had the prudent and fiscally responsible approach to taxes and spending that Norwalk once had would have carried over to modern times. Unfortunately, her plight and many other long-time seniors here are struggling to remain in their homes as spending and taxes continue to loom out of control

    Thank you Mayor Esposito.

  3. Scott

    In the grand scheme of things $115 dollars won’t make a hell of a lot of difference. It simply be something to be touted by politicians during an election.

  4. Bruce Kimmel

    The plan was developed with the assumption that we would increase Tier I enrollment by 10%. However, if we were to exceed the projected numbers for Tier I, the additional money would have to come from Tier II. Then, we would adjust the overall funding for next year.

    Also, we plan to review the senior tax relief program every summer, with the option of making changes whenever we consider it necessary. Rest assured, they program will continue to be updated — especially right after property revaluations.

    We also plan to publicize the plan more than we have in the past. This will be discussed at the November meeting of the Finance Committee. And finally, the impact of the changes on next year’s property taxes will be minimal: Taxes would increase in the fourth (and largest) taxing district by about eight dollars.

  5. anon

    @Kimmel, you are giving from some seniors but taking from other seniors, how is that fair? A review every year is a ploy not a plan.

    And middle class non-senior Norwalkers get to pay for this shuffle.

    This is the best you can do?

  6. EveT

    I find it amazing that a Norwalk property owner would bring up the name of Mayor Esposito with admiration. Esposito was responsible for a severe property tax shock after he left office, thanks to his weaseling out of the state requirement for revaluations every 5 years.

  7. John Hamlin

    Limiting tax increases for every citizen does not seem to have been a priority for this administration or the last one. If expenses are kept flat or reduced, as they are in most healthy corporations, this would not be a problem. The Common Council would need to make this a priority. There is no reason taxes should increase year after year like clockwork. Unless your priority is not the taxpayers and citizens but only the public employees and the “government class” to which they belong.

  8. Jeff

    Property values in stagnation is a direct byproduct of the high mill rate city officials imposes on the taxpayers and a common reason why many prospective homeowners opt out of purchasing here. Unfortunately, not even high taxes can offset the the low ranked schools which unfortunately provides fodder to increase taxes even more. A vicious circle to say the least.

    While I wasn’t around during Mayor Esposito’s tenure, his letter in an earlier reply demonstrates, on the surface, a taxpayer first mentality and focus to mitigating expenses; all of which appear to nonexistent in recent years.

    I’m glad NON is bringing light to this issue.

  9. @Anon: I don’t think this program actually costs the taxpayer anything. As I understand it, the State files a lien on the property, and get the money they reimbursed the city back, together with costs and interest, when the property is sold. So it’s a reverse-mortgage deal for the elderly property-taxpayer.

    Do I understand this program correctly?

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