by Shirley Murtha
The Lost Acres Fire Department recently was granted an update to the rules that enable firefighters to attain tax abatement, a program that has been in effect in Granby since 2008. Chief John Horr presented the reasons for requesting the amendments to the Board of Selectmen, who consequently approved the proposal.
A town ordinance allows firefighters with 20 or more years of service to retire and receive the tax abatement as long as they own property in the town and meet all the other requirements for eligibility. The department membership felt that anyone who qualifies should get the abatement without retiring, the goal being to keep experienced firefighters in the department.
The requirements for eligibility are as follows. All eligible firefighters must attend/respond to no less than 25 percent of all calls during the fiscal year; they must attend no less than 50 percent of all department monthly meetings during the fiscal year; they must attend no less than 70 percent of all drills carried out during the fiscal year; they must attend no less than 50 percent of all work details and checklists during the fiscal year; and they must be current with the department’s physical and medical exam requirements.
A second amendment allows the chief to make adjustments in case someone is short in a specific requirement but has put in extra time in other areas, perhaps training sessions or fire prevention activities, for example. The chief will document these additional activities and the town manager will approve them on a case-by-case basis.
The tax abatement consists of a flat $1,000 reduction in the firefighter’s tax bill. It is first taken off of any real estate owned by the firefighter. If the person does not have any real estate tax obligations, their motor vehicle tax is reduced.