BEACON FALLS — Over 160 people filled the firehouse for a town meeting Wednesday night to cast their vote on four proposed ordinance revisions, approving each one.
The change that drew the largest crowd was to the ordinance concerning the local option tax relief for elderly and disabled homeowners.
Since the ordinance’s inception in 2006 residents 65 years old and older have received a $500 tax credit, which is the largest amount that the town was legally allowed to give out.
The ordinance stipulated the total of all tax credits given by the town can’t exceed .05 percent of the prior year’s total real estate assessment, which would mean this year the most the town could give to eligible seniors would be $200.
The revision raises the percent the town can’t exceed to 10 percent, which aligns it with state statutes, thus allowing the town to maintain the $500 tax credit for seniors.
Proponents of the revision said many seniors live in private communities where they pay to have the roads plowed and garbage removed, which are services the town provides other residents.
Resident Rodger Addil said having seniors in town is actually a benefit for other residents.
“Anything the town can do to encourage seniors to stay in town is a benefit. Most seniors do not have children, and as we all know the biggest part of our budget is education. By a senior staying here in town this helps the town of Beacon Falls offset this tremendous burden on the taxpayer,” Addil said.
However, not everyone agreed.
Resident Gary Komarowsky said given Pond Spring Village and Chatfield Farms, both of which are communities for senior citizens, have empty housing units and the ability to expand, the ordinance could cost the town a lot more money than it does right now.
“You would have to have your basic mill rate increase and this would negatively affect the people who this ordinance was meant for, those of limited means. That’s the reason I’m asking you to reject this ordinance as it presently stands,” Komarowsky said.
Ultimately, the change was approved by 87 votes, 125 to 38, with one abstention.
The other three revisions were all approved as well without as much discussion.
The noise ordinance was revised to cover the use of all-terrain and recreational vehicles in town. The change makes it illegal to ride ATVs and other recreational vehicles within 50 feet of a property line and sets fees for violators.
The final two revisions eliminated the Board of Assessors, which has not been operational since the town started paying assessors, and added the land steward and a person from the Water Pollution Control Authority to the Land Use Committee.