Public debate stalls action at city council meeting

NORWICH – Following three public hearings that resulted in little public support for city action, one proposed ordinance was turned down by city legislators on Thursday while another passed, and a third was tabled until a 2014 city budget is presented.

In light of what some city residents called an unfair shift of the tax burden, council members deliberated before passing a resolution to provide a partial tax exemption for residents age 65 and older. The new law will allow elderly residents below a certain income threshold to be exempt of a percentage of property taxes; but residents argued other tax payers will be strained to make up the difference.

According to City Treasurer Bill Roberts, only 72 of a total 2,375 taxable parcels in the city are eligible for the exemption, resulting in a loss of approximately $6,500 annually. The tax levy increase will be distributed to residents city-wide, meaning each taxpayer can expect to pay an additional $2.84 over the course of the year.

Despite the nominal tax increase, “It’s not a good time to give away tax breaks,” argued city resident Jason Miller. “I know many seniors are on a fixed income and have a lot of challenges, but you are really shifting the tax burden ... I would encourage the council to not agree with this ordinance.”

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