Councilwoman Marybeth Thornton today questioned whether First Selectman Tim Herbst’s automobile property tax relief program is legal under state law.
"Mr. Herbst’s recent press release is irresponsible,” Thornton said. “It’s irresponsible to suggest that he can give a tax break to all senior citizens in Trumbull when that is simply not true. It gives our citizens who may be hurting financially the false impression that their taxes will go down if he is elected. Making this statement so close to an election can only be a ploy to trick voters – voters who will be terribly disappointed after the election when they find out Mr. Herbst’s plan is illegal and they get nothing.”
Mr. Herbst’s plan would potentially give any person over 65 years old a $5,000 reduction to their car tax assessment, regardless of their income, for a property tax reduction of approximately $125. But under state law, a town can only allow property tax reductions under specific circumstances. A town cannot enact any tax relief program without the state’s approval. Even those plans that are allowed usually require some showing of financial hardship. No state law allows for the plan suggested by Mr. Herbst.
“Leadership requires telling the truth, and Mr. Herbst and his committee have not been able to do that after working on tax relief for over a year,” Thornton said. “After all that time they should have been able to present a plan to help our citizens that was not illegal. With all of the money he has spent on town attorneys looking at so many minor issues, he should have checked into whether this plan would actually work before giving our seniors false hope.”