Those seeking Groton tax abatement need not appear before council

Groton - The Town Council recently reviewed its policy that allows the town to forgive taxes on residences owned and occupied by people unable to pay them but made no changes.

The "Abatement of Taxes and Delinquent Interests for Persons who are Poor and Unable to Pay" policy, was put in place 10 years ago.

The council asked Town Manager Mark Oefinger to review the 2002 policy because there were concerns that people seeking the abatement believed they were required to appear before the council as part of their petition to take advantage of the program.

The Town Council's meetings are televised live on Public Access television, which Oefinger said might make people reluctant to come forward. In fact, the petitioning resident would not have to appear before the council.

"All completed abatement petitions shall be reviewed by a meeting of the Town Council's Finance Committee," the policy states. "Abatements approved by the finance committee shall be forwarded to the Town Council for formal approval."

To be eligible for the abatement, a property owner has to live in the residence for at least 250 days per year and must demonstrate that the combined income (salaries, wages, interests, rents, capital gains, social security unemployment, inheritance and family contributions) of all household residents is below the federal poverty level.

Before submitting a petition to the Town Council, an applicant must meet with the tax assessor, tax collector and the human services director.

The abatement program does not apply to motor vehicles, investment property or a residence that has an appeal pending on a property assessment. It also cannot apply to property that is the subject of foreclosure or other court action.

c.potter@theday.com

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