To the editor:
Wake up fellow seniors and smell the hypocrisy!
The new senior tax abatement “proposal” that Timothy Herbst sent to the Town Council reeks of desperation. After telling residents for months that there isn’t any money in the budget for our schools or other programs, Herbst suddenly comes up with a plan that would cost the town between $340,375 and $575,000.
If this isn’t a transparent attempt to lure senior voters with a wink and a promise, why put forth this slapdash plan now? Why not wait until the details are fully thought through and (as always seems to be the case with Timothy) the town attorneys consulted as to the legality of the plan? At the moment, all we have is an ill-conceived idea that may or may not be legal, and that may or may not be enacted.
I’m sure most residents—I included—would gladly support easing the financial burden on seniors who are truly having trouble making ends meet. In fact, First Selectman candidate and Town Councilwoman Mary Beth Thornton has co-sponsored some of the strong senior tax relief programs that already benefit our neighbors today. Unfortunately, her most recent proposals to aid seniors were tabled by the town Republicans who did not consider senior tax relief a priority before election season.
One big problem with the current Herbst proposal is that it could end up giving tax breaks to wealthier citizens, while offering no tax relief to those in need. As currently described, the plan would offer a deduction of $5,000 from automobile tax assessments to all seniors, regardless of financial status. So a senior who is well-off financially, and who owns an expensive car, would get a whopping savings of $125 in his or her taxes at the current mill rate. Would I like that? Sure, but not at the expense of our schools, parks and roads. And meanwhile, another senior who cannot even afford a car, and is clearly struggling, would get nothing.
Furthermore, where will the money come from to offset the cost of this program? Should younger and middle-aged residents—including many who are also struggling to get by in the sagging economy—be asked to pay for a program that benefits even financially secure seniors?
Clearly, in his haste to release this plan during election season, Timothy has not thought this through. Either that or he sent this “proposal” to the Town Council in its slipshod state, hoping that our senior would fail to see through his attempt to sway them with empty promises. What clearly bothers me is that Mr. Herbst thinks that seniors can be bought. Not so! Our seniors are either of “the greatest generation” or are their children and we know our responsibilities as citizens.
Mr. Herbst and his Republican-controlled Town Council had two years to enact senior tax abatement. If they really had the interests of our seniors at heart, why did they wait until now, and then put forth a flawed proposal?
Carole A. Lalor