Gold Star parents and spouses in Wilton will now have the opportunity to receive a tax relief benefit.

Following a public hearing on Monday, Aug. 12, the Board of Selectmen unanimously voted to approve the Gold Star Parent and Spouse Tax Relief ordinance.

The ordinance is for the benefit of Wilton residents who were parents of a child who was killed in action, or the surviving spouse of a person who was killed in action while performing active military duty with the armed forces.

The ordinance allows an exemption from property tax in the amount of 10 percent of the assessed value of any such eligible parent's or surviving spouse's property. Based on median home prices in Wilton, that amount would be around $1,500.

To receive the exemption, there are qualifying income levels.

For single taxpayers, the state has an annual income limit of $36,000 for single taxpayers, and $43,900 for married taxpayers.

However, the statute allows municipalities the authority to increase the income level by $25,000, which the Wilton board agreed to do in the ordinance.

Therefore, the qualifying income limit is $61,000 for single taxpayers and $68,900 for married taxpayers.

Members of the public at the hearing and the selectmen were in full support of the ordinance. However, they believed the qualifying income level set by the state was too low.

Don Hazzard, past commander of the Wilton American Legion Post 86, told the board, “We believe there should be no income limitations to these families, because their loved ones were not limited to the size of the sacrifice that they made.”

First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice said the board will contact the town’s state legislators and ask them to change the enabling statute in order to increase the income level.

The ordinance is expected to go into effect 21 days following the board’s approval, which gives eligible families and spouses enough time to apply for the exemption before the Oct. 1, 2019 grand list date, Vanderslice said.

pgay@wiltonbulletin.com