The Board of Selectmen at their last two meetings have discussed a possible new tax freeze program for town residents.
The town already has tax abatement and tax deferment programs on the books.
A tax freeze program means that if you qualify, your current tax amount, say $4,000 a year on your house, "freezes" or stays the same each year until you leave that home, make certain improvements to the home, die, or no longer qualify for the program.
No decisions have been made on the program - it is only in the discussion phase.
"Guilford has a tax freeze program as does East Lyme and Lyme," explained First Selectman Willie Fritz. "Part of it is designed to keep seniors in their own homes and in town. Also, this would help ease the tax burden for residents on fixed incomes."
The program would require reaching a certain age (usually 65 and older) and having an adjusted gross income per tax records that is usually in the $55,000 range. The adjusted gross income would be the total maximum income for the applicant. If the applicant is married, the combined income could be no more than $55,000 (or the final number decided for the ordinance.)
Residents who are 100% disabled could also apply for the program regardless of their age.
There are other requirements such as length of residency (you must live in town or in the state for a certain period) and your home must be your primary residence.
"If you meet the requirements, what you pay now in tax is what you pay every year as long as you are eligible," said Fritz.
If accepted, you must re-apply for the program each year. Residents cannot take part in more than one town-sponsored tax program.
Fritz said that the Assessors Office said approximately 500 people in town qualify for the program. This number could increase or decrease depending upon the final income and age levels. Costs to the town were discussed in the $350,000 range. There is $130,000 set aside for it now.
The program will be reviewed again at the next board meeting.