Surviving spouses of New Haven’s police officers and firefighters who have died in the line of duty may soon receive some compensation for their loss.
At the regular meeting of the New Haven Board of Aldermen this Tuesday, the board unanimously passed an ordinance allowing for an abatement of real property tax for the principle residences of spouses of firefighters and police officers who died in the line of duty.
The ordinance, which was proposed by Ward 17 Alderman Matt Naclerio, became possible after changes in state law last year.
“This is a much deserved token of the city’s great appreciation for the outstanding commitment to our community rendered by such heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect and serve their fellow citizens,” Naclerio wrote in a letter to Jorge Perez, the president of the Board of Aldermen.
While Naclerio introduced the issue last December on the behalf of a resident of his district, he said Sept. 11 provided further incentive for approving the ordinance.
“We have a new appreciation for their service to the community — in light of the events of Sept. 11,” Naclerio said when addressing board members at Tuesday’s meeting.
Several members of the board echoed Naclerio’s statement about the new significance the issue has taken on.
“When Matt proposed it, the reaction was, ‘Gee, why didn’t I think of that?'” Ward 24 Alderwoman Elizabeth McCormack said.
“It’s the least you can do for someone — who has died in the line of duty,” said Ward 11 Alderman Edward Clifford, the chairman of the Aldermanic Affairs Committee, pointing to similar tax exemptions provided for army and navy officers.
The new ordinance would currently apply to two residents in New Haven and would result in an annual revenue loss of $6310.16 for the city.
“It has relatively little fiscal impact on our end,” Ward 1 Alderman Ben Healey ’04 said.
The text of the ordinance stipulates that the tax abatement applies only to a surviving spouse’s principle residence, which must be located in New Haven. The ordinance would remain in effect without the requirement of reapplication, unless the surviving spouse remarries, in which case he or she becomes ineligible unless the remarriage ends in divorce. If the remarriage ends, the surviving spouse can reapply for the tax abatement.
In addition to providing some sort of compensation for the surviving spouse, Naclerio said the ordinance would also serve as a reward for men and women currently serving in the New Haven Police and Fire departments.
If Mayor John DeStefano Jr. approves the ordinance, it will go into effect Dec. 15.