To the Editor:
I want to thank John Kortze for having organized the Open Forum on senior property taxes on October15 and his observation that there was over 300 residents at the meeting. I believe The Bee reporter who wrote that there were about 100 people must not have not taken the time to actually count heads, as I and others did. The League of Senior Voters as a coalition was started by a number of senior residents from different communities out of frustration and after failed attempts with meetings with top town officials.
We came to this meeting to restate our concerns and frustrations over the fact that senior condo owners and others were targeted to pay the outrageous real estate tax increases, while the rest of the town residents had little or no tax increases. We as seniors have our pensions, our social security, and our IRA distributions taxed and get few services. Those with school children get federal tax deductions and the town spends over $14,000 per student, in addition to all the other town services. We remain frustrated and angry, especially when we learned of the increases and were unable to appeal in may since the appeal process period had passed.
I spoke for the senior condo owners hoping that both sides could collaborate to overcome the hurdle but reminded the town officials that some senior homeowners have retained an attorney to dispute their assessments. Residents are pursuing this action in greater numbers because they are convinced that nothing concrete will be done this year or next to correct the inequity.
It is very important that the town officials realize that this frustration and anger has spread not only to other home owners of waterfront and McMansions but also to other residents who have been impacted by these increases. The concluding observation by Pat Llodra in The Bee article that these sharp tax increases are not unique to Newtown but happening throughout Connecticut and New England will not pacify our segment of the population that is very agitated and organized by the fact that the tax increases were not equitably distributed.
The town's credibility is now at stake. This situation does not speak well for Newtown leaders going forward.
Newtown has had a reputation for excessive spending over the years. This observation has been expressed by past and current town officials. The town has to spend millions to pay off the accumulated debt which takes up about 25 percent of the town budget every year. Any town with this burden eventually can get in trouble and here we are. But we have 9 million dollars in reserve and it is expected that 24 % of the taxpayers will pay the new tax increases.
60 Watkins Drive, Sandy Hook October 22, 2013
(EDITOR's NOTE: According to school officials, the capacity of the lecture hall where the forum took place is 165 persons, including standees and instructors. A picture of the event can be seen here.)