Easton To Vote On Tax Break For Police And Fire Widows

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Easton firefighter Russell Neary has inspired a new law that would waive property taxes for surviving spouses of firefighters and police officers killed in the line of duty.
Easton firefighter Russell Neary has inspired a new law that would waive property taxes for surviving spouses of firefighters and police officers killed in the line of duty. Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Easton Fire Department

EASTON, Conn. – Easton will hold a Special Town Meeting Monday night to vote on a proposed ordinance that would waive property taxes for widows of firefighters and police officers killed in the line of duty.

The new law was inspired by Easton Volunteer Firefighter Russell Neary, who died while on a call during Hurricane Sandy last fall. The ordinance would make surviving spouses like his wife, Mary Ann Neary, exempt from property taxes on their primary residences in Easton.

“It is the purpose of this ordinance to honor a police officer or firefighter who dies while in the performance of his or her duties for the town of Easton and to ease the resulting financial burden of his/her surviving spouse,” the proposal reads.

The exemption would apply to the surviving spouses of any member of the Easton Police Department, Easton Fire Department or Easton Volunteer Fire Company who dies while serving the town. It would be retroactive to tax bills starting Jan. 1.

Currently, Neary is the only person who would qualify, as an emergency responder had not died while on a call in Easton since 1923, Easton Fire Department  member Jack Johnston told the Daily Voice last month.

The ordinance also includes a provision for emergency responders who do not live in Easton. In those situations, a special committee made up of the tax assessor and elected officials would have to determine if that person’s surviving spouse qualifies for the program. If so, then Easton would make the payments.

The Special Town Meeting to approve the ordinance is scheduled for April 1 starting at 8 p.m. in the cafeteria of Samuel Staples Elementary School. The full text of the proposed ordinance is available for review on the town website. 

“Please mark your calendars to come and support this important ordinance that will help a family that has given so much to the town of Easton,” the Easton Volunteer Fire Department wrote on its Facebook page last week.

CORRECTION: This story originally included the wrong start time for the town meeting. The correct time is 8 p.m.

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The story has been fixed. Thanks, and my apologies for any confusion.

The Town Meeting starts at 8pm..not 7 pm. Thanks.