Wilton public hearing set for senior tax relief

The Board of Selectmen is recommending three changes to improve Wilton’s senior tax relief ordinance.

To that end, the board set a public hearing date of Monday, Oct. 7, at 8 p.m. in Room B at Wilton Town Hall to review changes that will:

 Provide applicants with an appeals process.

 Create a minimum tax credit of $250.

 Allow for re-adjustments of credits to better utilize budgeted funds.

“The idea is not to do a radical overhaul of senior tax relief at this moment, because it requires a bigger study, but there are some meaningful things the board could do now,” First Selectwoman Lynne Vanderslice told the selectmen at their meeting on Sept. 23.

Wilton’s tax relief program is available to elderly and disabled taxpayers who meet income and other requirements.

The three changes would be made as amendments to Article 1 of Chapter 26A of the Wilton Town Code, which governs the senior tax relief program.

The purpose of the proposed changes is to better utilize funds already budgeted for elderly and disabled tax relief programs, and to ensure that all eligible residents receive the benefits to which they are entitled, tax assessor Sarah Scacco, told the board.

She noted the program has $280,000 of “under-utilized” funds.

The first proposed change will provide applicants to the program with an appeals process. There currently is no appeal process, Scacco explained.

Applications must be filed annually between Feb. 1 and May 15. If the deadline is missed, the applicant would not be eligible for that year regardless of the situation.

“There could be many reasons why someone might miss the deadline and currently the town has no ability to address any of these issues,” according to Scacco.

Appeals would be made to the Board of Selectmen, requesting an extension to file and demonstrating “good cause” as to why such an extension is necessary.

The second change would create a minimum tax credit of $250.

“The current program uses a formula to determine the tax credit allowed based on the applicant’s income. Without a minimum or base credit, we have had applicants being accepted into the program but only being eligible for $1 credit,” Scacco said.

The third change would allow for re-adjustments of credits to better utilize budgeted funds, Scacco said.

“This would add the ability for the Board of Selectmen, or its designee, to re-adjust credit amounts for any unused budgeted funds for the tax credit or tax deferral program. This will allow the town to ensure the total budgeted amount is being utilized as intended,” according to Scacco.