Commission members: Rosalind Kopfstein, Chairman; Hilda Rhodes, Sam Crocker, Jean Whitham, Janet Metzger, Beth Wagner
Others present: Gail Schiron, Marie Sibilio, Ruth Moran, Tax Collector Pat Moisio and First Selectman Julia Pemberton
Mrs. Kopstein called the January 8, 2014 meeting to order at 9:02 am in the Community Center.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Motion: move that the minutes of the December 4, 2013 meeting be approved as submitted. Metzger, Wagner. Approved. Unanimous.
ELDERLY TAX BENEFIT INFORMATION, TAX COLLECTOR PAT MOISIO
Mrs. Moisio provided information on the current Elderly Tax Town Benefit and the proposed changes to the program. The Town Benefit was put in place to encourage the elderly/seniors to remain in their homes. Redding does not offer any housing programs or options for elders to age in town. The Board of Finance established a subcommittee for a 10-year review of the benefit program and potential changes.
The current year benefit is $2,438 and is derived from on a formula based on the mill rate and the average home assessment. The benefit is currently available to those who own property individually or with a spouse, with an age requirement of 65, who live in town 183-day/year residency, after a 3-year Redding residency. The application period is currently from February 1 to May 15 and on renewal application is required. The elderly tax benefit cost for the town is just over $1,000,000; and 675 people are currently receiving the benefit.
The subcommittee will make a presentation with recommendations for changes to the Board of Finance at their January 27, 2014 meeting. The changes include:
1. Dates for application: change to January 1 through April 15: this will allow the setting of the mill rate with a known dollar amount of the town benefit.
2. Eligibility age: currently 65, the age will increase to 67 to be consistent with Social Security. This will be phased in, with age 66 for the first year, and 67 for the second and following years.
3. Residency requirement: currently 3 years, the subcommittee is recommending 5 years.
4. Reapplication: an in-person reapplication process will be required every two years. Reapplication will require proof of residency and proof that it is the primary residence of the applicant.
The Board of Finance will discuss the recommendations at their meeting in January. If the Board of Finance takes action on the recommendations, those recommendations will then be sent to the Board of Selectmen for consideration.
Mrs. Schiron reported on the following:
- Energy Assistance: Mrs. Schiron noted that many have requested assistance with fuel.
- Donations to Redding Shares the Warmth have been good, but will likely not be able to meet all the demands.
- Nursing home visitations: Mrs. Schiron reported on individual is still having problems adjusting and the family has been asked to take action.
- Emergency contact list: Mrs. Schiron has contacted those individuals on her list to be sure they are comfortable in the cold weather. She commented that most responded they are doing well, just wearing an extra sweater.
- Warming Center: Heritage Center will be opened as a warming center if the need arises.
- Security and safety training: all town employees participated in security training with Chief Fuchs. As part of the training, the employees/departments were asked to put crisis emergency plans in place. The staff is working on such a plan. In addition, adjustments are being made to the doors and windows to assure safety and appropriate access. The doors are the rear of the building will remain locked from the inside and access to the building will only be through the three doors at the front of the building.
Budget: the Board of Selectmen budget workshop is Friday, January 10. The Senor Center is scheduled for 11:30 am. The budget was reviewed and discussed.
REPORT ON ACTIVITIES
Mrs. Sibilio reported on the following:
- The History Series is attracting many participants. Art Gottlieb presented a program on Pearl Harbor in December and will return in January for a presentation on commercial aviation.
Redding Elementary School string players performed in December for a lunch program.
- Gift wrapping at the Mall: Mrs. Sibilio and Mrs. Schiron participated in this event for Habitat for Humanity.
- The holiday luncheon attracted 44 people and featured the John Read Middle School choir and orchestra.
- Luncheon Options: Mrs. Metzger reported that work is still being done to determine the true cost to bring this program in-house. She will have more information for the next meeting.
OTHER: Mrs. Wagner and Mrs. Metzger noted that they will be volunteering on tax return assistance, a program in Bethel associated with AARP. The program is open to Redding residence, and they suggested this be publicized.
The next meeting is scheduled for February 5, 2014 at 9:00 am at the Heritage Center.
The Chair adjourned the meeting at 10:35 am.
Mary Maday, Recording Secretary