Borough makes changes to elderly tax program

NAUGATUCK — The Board of Mayor and Burgesses last week approved making some slight changes to the borough’s Elderly Tax Credit Program.

The program allows senior citizens to work in Town Hall in exchange for a credit on their property taxes.

The program will keep the same 18 spots open for seniors, but the board voted to reduce the amount of the credit by $100 to $400 and the amount of time seniors work by 10 hours to 40 hours a year.

The board also removed the greeter position, which was based in the lobby of Town Hall and supposed to direct people where to go, in favor of having the seniors work in department offices.

The greeter position had been a point of contention with borough officials.

Zoning Enforcement Officer Ed Carter, who previously was the mayor’s aide and oversaw the program, said the greeter position was created because sometimes the people who were brought on for the program had difficulty doing work in an office.

“The department heads said to me that they are not much of a help in some cases,” Carter said. “They spent more time helping them. There was no benefit.”

Each senior will be assigned to an office in Town Hall, the Whittemore Library, the Public Works Department, or other places as needed by the mayor or the mayor’s designee.

The board approved the changes 7 to 1 with Deputy Mayor Laurie Taf-Jackson abstaining because her mother, former Mayor Joan Taf, participates in the program.

Burgess Rocky Vitale, who voted against the changes, said he didn’t favor cutting the amount of the credit.

Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess said it was reduced because, when the issue was discussed in February, some burgesses proposed keeping it at $500 and some proposed cutting it to $300, so he chose to move forward with the $400 median.

Vitale said he also didn’t want the seniors to be assigned to places “as needed,” but rather assure that they are in offices doing actual work.

“If you don’t have a place for everyone, then not everyone gets in. You don’t want to make it ‘let’s just throw some money at people,’” Vitale said. “You might as well just say, ‘Stay home and we will send you the check.’”