NEWINGTON - Town officials elected to offer taxpayers some relief this year, signing up for not one, but both of the programs the state of Connecticut has made available to municipalities.
Newington residents, business owners and taxpayers will have an extra 90 days to pay their July tax bills, which are now due by Oct. 1, in accordance with the newly adopted Tax Deferment Program.
Additionally, those who are delinquent on tax payable between March 1 and July 1 will be afforded a lower interest rate for a period of 90 days. Delinquent taxpayers are typically charged interest at a rate of 1.5 percent from the date their bill was due. This Low Interest Rate Program put forward by the state lowers the rate to .25 perecent per month or 3 percent per year from the tax due date, effective for 90 days.
State Rep. Gary Turco, D-Newington, supported the council’s decision.
“I think with the difficulties residents are facing right now, the deferment would be appropriate and needed by many residents and I urge the council to vote for it,” Turco said.
Municipalities were given the choice to sign up for either or both programs, offering relief to those directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic through job loss or other factors, or other groups they deemed fit. The Newington Town Council voted unanimously to adopt both and make all taxpayers eligible with no exceptions.
“I think this gives our citizens a chance to catch their breaths for a couple of months,” Majority Leader Tim Manke pointed out. “It’s been a trying couple of months already; this is the least we can do to help people recover a little bit.”
Mayor Beth DelBuono said businesses that have been forced to close or reduce hours due to the governor’s executive orders would be especially grateful for the payment extension.
“I did get a few emails and phone calls from business owners who are really concerned about being able to meet their tax obligations, so I’m really glad we’re able to provide this level of relief moving forward,” she said.
This week’s meeting was the first time the Town Council met virtually since the pandemic began, using the online platform Zoom to communicate from home. The public could also attend virtually, and offer input during public participation. A few technical hiccups were quickly ironed out by Town Clerk James Krupienski and the mayor, as they worked to sync up video and audio feeds.
“I just want to say to members of the public watching tonight, thank you for your patience with this, it’s a new format for us,” DelBuono said. “Hopefully we’ll get better each time we do it.”
The council went on to pass a revised budget schedule, moving the final public hearing on their 2020-21 spending plan to Tuesday, May 5. Previously delayed budget workshops will resume virtually through the end of April. The new date for adopting the final budget and setting the new mill rate has been reset to May 19.
Other business to move forward was a change to the town’s emergency contingency plan for elections. The amended plan gives the town more flexibility to handle special circumstances that arise during the presidential primary and election later this year.
Additionally, councilors allocated $50,000 from a special contingency fund to the Anna Reynolds Project Building Committee, to hire a construction team and formulate a project budget to go to referendum.
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.