Easton Death Prompts Bill To Aid First Responder Families

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The "Russ Neary bill" will provide tax relief for the spouses of first responders who died in the line of duty. Photo Credit: file

EASTON, Conn. – The death of Easton firefighter Russ Neary during Hurricane Sandy has led to a legislative proposal that would give tax relief to the families of first responders killed in the line of duty.  

The bill would allow spouses of first responders to apply through the Department of Revenue Services for relief, which could be a one-year abatement of state income tax, said its sponsor, state Rep. John Shaban.  

Neary, a volunteer, was killed when a tree came down on his fire truck during Hurricane Sandy.

“The bill provides first-response families a little support,” said Shaban, a Republican who represents Weston, Easton and Redding. “In our small towns, so many who do this work are volunteers. Some are well off, and some are not.”

He proposed the bill to the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee for a possible public hearing. “It’s in the pipeline,” Shaban said. He expects it will be considered by the end of the legislative session in May or June.

The bill would augment a town effort to provide tax relief proposed by the Easton Fire Department in response to Neary’s death. The town ordinance would provide relief from property taxes for the lifetime of the surviving spouse.

The selectmen were making minor changes to the ordinance and will bring it to the Town Meeting in March, said Jack Johnston, a 53-year member of the fire department. If approved, it could be retroactive to January.

It would provide tax relief for Mary Ann Neary, Russ Neary’s widow. Neary, who was killed Oct. 29, is the first local emergency responder to be killed in the line of duty since 1923, Johnston said.

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