WALLINGFORD — The Town Council on Tuesday night approved an increased tax break for volunteer first responders to the new maximum amount allowed by the state.
The unanimous vote amends the existing agreement, under which volunteer firefighters, paramedics, emergency medical technicians and ambulance drivers are eligible for an annual tax abatement amount based on years of service.
The abatement is a reimbursement payment equivalent to the reduction in property taxes. The town funds the property tax relief program through the Fire Department budget.
A new state statute that was passed in June increased the abatement schedule for 2021 by $500, for a total of up to $1,500 depending on years served, and then again in 2022 by another $500, for a total of up to $2,000.
The Town Council ordinance committee approved a draft ordinance at its meeting Nov. 26.
The payment qualifies as income, so it's subject to state and federal income taxes.
The amended agreement also extends the abatement to volunteers who live outside of Wallingford by updating the definition of "volunteer" to remove the word "resident."
Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. said that out-of-town volunteers would need to show proof of paying taxes in another town, and Wallingford would provide a check for the abatement.
Councilor Craig Fishbein, who’s also the state representative for the 90th district, brought the matter to the council’s attention at the end of the summer.
“Our volunteers are very important to our town,” he said Tuesday. “I’m very happy that we were able to work together on this, not only to expand it but I think make our ordinance better for … those that live in our town and serve in another town. Hopefully the other towns will follow our direction.”