West Hartford Town Council Adopts Emergency Tax Relief Resolution

West Hartford Town Hall. Photo credit: Ronni Newton

During its first-ever virtual meeting, the West Hartford Town Council adopted a resolution offering temporary tax relief to residents and businesses.

By Ronni Newton

The West Hartford Town Council held its first official meeting since the COVID-19 pandemic on Monday night, unanimously passing a number of resolutions to assist residents and businesses and to allow the legislative body to operate under new conditions.

Among the Town Council actions during Monday night’s special meeting – which was broadcast by West Hartford Community Interactive and is available for viewing on YouTube – was adoption of a resolution offering temporary property tax relief for residents and taxpayers.

Among the executive orders issued by Gov. Ned Lamont since the COVID-19 pandemic began was Executive Order 7S, signed on April 1, 2020, establishing the “Deferment Program” and the “Low Interest Rate Program,” and requiring municipalities to enact either one, or both, to “provide temporary tax forbearance of property tax collection and reduced interest on delinquent tax payments to property owners under certain conditions.”

The West Hartford Town Council enacted both, with unanimous and bipartisan support, and is one of the first communities in the state to adopt both of the programs.

“We do not want any resident or local business that is suffering financial hardship because of COVID-19 to worry about their upcoming property tax bill,” said Mayor Shari Cantor in a statement.“It was important for the Town Council to take quick, decisive action to help our taxpayers and businesses during these unprecedented times. I want to thank the governor for his leadership in giving municipalities these tools.”

Minority Leader Lee Gold also voiced his support. “This is a time when we need our entire community to come together to support our residents and local businesses,” he said.

Further guidelines will soon be available from the town regarding eligibility, but according to information provided to the Town Council during Monday night’s meeting by Gina Verrano, deputy corporation counsel, the deferment will extend eligible taxpayers the right to pay their property and vehicle tax bills on Oct. 1 rather than July 1. The low interest rate program will allow municipalities to reduce the interest rate from 18% to 3% on currently delinquent tax bills, or those that may become delinquent as of July 1, Verrano said.

Cantor clarified Monday night that the reduced interest rate applies only to delinquent tax liability dating from March 10, when a state of emergency was first declared.

“This is only the first step in what will be a long recovery,” said Cantor, noting Monday night that “many peoples’ financial lives have fallen off a cliff.”

This is one way the town is able to support the community. “We want to do everything possible to help residents and local businesses,” Cantor said.

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