Ah, the power of incumbency five weeks from a primary. Mayor Joe Ganim on Tuesday pitched a senior citizen tax relief plan to the City Council that, if approved, would begin for the July 1, 2020 budget year. Hmmm, can’t wait for the mail piece …
News release from the mayor:
Mayor Ganim announced that he is delivering on his promise to bring tax relief to Bridgeport seniors by restructuring and expanding the senior tax relief program. A prior year’s state budget threatened to eliminate funding for the senior tax program entirely. The Mayor is not only reaffirming his commitment to the senior tax relief program, but seeks to expand this tax benefit for homeowners over the age of 65.
The proposed plan sent to City Council for consideration builds on the current program by keeping the same rules for eligibility, but expands the benefits to middle income seniors and creates a progressive, tiered benefit that gives the most relief to those seniors with the lowest income.
Whereas the current senior tax program gives a flat $800 to eligible seniors with household incomes of up to $43,900, this new program would provide $1,200 for seniors with household incomes up to $20,000, $900 for seniors with incomes between $20,001 and $43,900, and $400 for seniors with household incomes between $43,901 and $58,000.
This proposal would amend 3.16.110 of the Bridgeport Municipal Code of Ordinances to be effective next fiscal year beginning July 1, 2020. This gives the City Council time to consider the proposal and make it a part of the next fiscal year budget, as well as for the Tax Assessor’s Office to administer it.
“Our seniors have become more and more vulnerable as many are on a fixed income and the costs of living continue to rise. This proposal is a way of providing property tax relief that is targeted to those residents that need help the most,” stated Mayor Ganim.
Currently, over 1,100 residents take advantage of the senior tax relief program. It is estimated that as many as 700 new households may be able to take advantage of this tax relief under the new guidelines.
The item has been referred to a Joint Committee on Ordinance and Budget and Appropriations.
Marcus Brown, Co-Chair of the Ordinance Committee stated, “I look forward to vetting this proposal in the Joint Committee. We need to come up with creative ways to reduce property taxes for residents. I am happy to see that the Mayor’s proposal not only extends the tax rebate to middle income seniors, but increases the rebate for those with the lowest levels of income.”
Nessah Smith, member of the Budget and Appropriations Committee, said, “I am supportive of any proposals that could help lessen the burden of property taxes in our city, especially our most vulnerable.”
PROPOSED ORDINANCE LANGUAGE
Real property tax relief and maximum – City of Bridgeport Program
Each resident qualifying under this article shall receive a tax credit on such resident’s real property tax bill for his or her principal residence in the city; provided, no such property tax relief, together with any relief received by such resident under the provisions of all applicable General Statutes of the state of Connecticut, shall exceed, in the aggregate, seventy-five (75) percent of the tax which would, except for such General Statutes, and this article, be laid against the taxpayer. The tax credit amount for any resident qualifying shall be in the following amount, based upon the resident’s level of annual household income as defined under state statute:
Household Income from $1 up to $20,000
— Tax Credit of $1,200
Household Income between $20,001 and $43,900
— Tax Credit of $900
Household Income between $43,901 and $58,000
— Tax Credit of $400
At the close of the calendar year next preceding the year in which the claim for tax relief is filed and approved such resident shall be sixty-five (65) years of age or over; or the spouse of such resident shall be sixty-five (65) years of age or over;
Estimated Fiscal Impact of proposed Expansion of Bridgeport local Senior Tax Relief Program
Current Program Household Participants: 1109 Senior households
Household Income from $1 up to $20,000 — Tax Credit of $1,200
Estimated cost of increase from $800 to $1,200 — $177,440
Household Income between $20,001 and $43,900 — Tax Credit of $900
Estimated cost of increase from $800 to $900 — $66,540
Household Income between $43,901 and $58,000 — Tax Credit of $400
Estimated cost of increase from $800 to $900 — $280,000
TOTAL FISCAL BUDGET IMPACT FROM PROPOSED PROGRAM EXPANSION: $523,980