One man’s quest for restoration of a senior citizen tax credit ended Monday night when the Town Council voted 5-0 to restore the former EG Fire District tax credit immediately. Resident David Slitt, 84, had complained about the lost credit to the Town Council at a meeting Aug. 25. Council members said the loss of the tax credit was an inadvertent consequence of merging the fire district into the town in 2013 – with no fire district, there was no fire district tax credit.
The credit affects 1441 households and includes homeowners age 65 and older, as well as veterans and their widows, anyone who is blind, and people who are 100 percent disabled. Restoring it this year will cost the town $99,640 – money already part of the 2015 budget approved in June.
Because tax bills for 2015 have already gone out, the process will work like this, explained Town Council President Michael Isaacs Monday: those affected will get a letter from the town telling them that their tax bill is being reduced by the amount of their specific credit. If the tax bill has already been paid in full, the town will issue a check to the household in the amount of the credit.
The Town of East Greenwich already grants tax credits for older residents and the others outlined above. Going forward, those credits will simply be increased to reflect the former fire district amounts. Senior citizens do not have to do anything to receive the tax credit – it is applied automatically.
“It’s a hit to the budget,” conceded Isaacs, “but I think it’s something we have to do. The town manager’s going to have to figure it out” budget wise.
Councilman Jeff Cianciolo voted to restore the credit along with his colleagues, but he aired his reservations before the vote.
“i’m going to support this but I’ll be honest, my support is lukewarm at best,” Cianciolo said. He voiced concern for the additional administrative cost of implementing the credit this year since the tax bills have already gone out, in light of the relatively small amounts of money per household.
“When we look at the actual dollar amounts involved, for 80 percent of the people involved, the total amount of impact is $5 to $8 a month for the 20 percent others, it’s $15 a month,” he said.
Cianciolo also spoke out in defense of the Town Council and town employees with regard to allegations of wrongdoing made by David Slitt at the meeting Aug. 25.
“There was no constitutional violation. There was no government confiscation … Nothing bad happened,” he said, noting the issue was never raised during the year of talks between the fire district and the town leading up to the merger.