By Thad Komorowski
TOWN OF NIAGARA – More senior citizens will be eligible for town property tax exemptions this year because of new income limits established by the Town Board.
The board Tuesday unanimously passed guidelines that allow exemptions for senior citizens who own property and have an annual income of up to $28,499. Previously, exemptions were limited to households with an income limit of $18,000 a year.
Supervisor lee Wallace noted that the change was made “so more could qualify” for the tax break.
The resolution sets up a “sliding scale” that provides varying amounts of incomes from $21,000 to $28,499 with tax exemptions of 50 to 10 percent. The scale mirrors the one used by Niagara County for county property taxes.
To qualify, the homeowner must be at least 65 years old and be within the income limits. The new scale takes effect this year.
In another matter, the board agreed to a revised master plan for the development of Veterans Memorial Community Park.
The plan, which Wallace described as “a working document,” outlines what amenities and features should be added to the park on Lockport Road.
Some of the ideas proposed for the park include an ice rink for hockey and skating, a miniature golf course, soccer fields and a cold storage building for town equipment. Already in the works is a memorial for war veterans.
Most of the funding would come from the yearly payment the town receives from the New York State Power Authority as a host community.
Only Councilman Richard Sirianni expressed opposition to the plan because he said if the town is going to spend up to $2.5 million on park development, it should have direct input from the community. Sirianni has supported the creation of a recreation and park committee to advise the board on what should be established in the park, even though he conceded that such committees “slow things down.”
Wallace, who has been a proponent of features that are low cost but would have high use, said the plan is not the final map for the park.
“All we’re doing is approving a working document,” the supervisor said. He explained that board has always welcomed community input and residents are welcome at any time to attend work sessions when subjects are discussed.
Councilman Marc Carpenter added that the board has used committees in the past for the first phase of the park development.
Sirianni abstained from the vote on the master plan, which the rest of the board approved.