I hope this finds you well. As I write this column, we have 74 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New Fairfield, and have suffered one fatality. Statewide, although the number of cases continues to increase, the number of hospitalizations is beginning to decrease. This is good news – but we must continue to be vigilant by practicing social distancing, good hygiene and by wearing masks in public. Remember, not only does wearing a mask offer you some protection; it also protects those around you. We know that some people who carry the virus are asymptomatic, with some estimates exceeding 25% of all cases; so even if you feel well, please wear a mask in public.
Most recently, Governor Lamont has issued an Executive Order requiring any person in a public place in Connecticut who is unable to or does not maintain a safe social distance of approximately six feet from every other person shall cover their mouth and nose with a mask or cloth face-covering. In addition, individuals shall use a mask or cloth face covering when using the services of any taxi, car, livery, ride-sharing or similar service or means of mass public transit, or while within any semi-enclosed transit stop or waiting area. The Commissioner of Economic and Community Development will be issuing updates to the Safe Workplace rules and the Safe Stores rules issued pursuant to previous Executive Orders. In this Order, the Governor also delayed the Presidential Preference Primaries until August 11, 2020.
The Governors of New York, Connecticut and New Jersey have agreed that marinas across all three states will open as scheduled. If you have a slip in the New Fairfield Town Marina, you will be receiving an e-mail outlining the social distancing procedures that will be in place when the marina opens on April 26. A decision regarding the Town Beach will be made in mid-May.
As mentioned in my most recent AlertNow message, Governor Lamont has also issued an Executive Order providing property tax relief for taxpayers and businesses. Two options for relief have been presented to municipalities, tax deferment and a low interest rate program for tax payments that are past due. Our Board of Selectmen has voted to participate in both programs. The tax deferment program delays the last day to pay real estate, personal property and motor vehicle taxes by 90 days for eligible taxpayers. Therefore, if you are eligible, taxes that are typically due on July 1 will be deferred until October 1, 2020. To be eligible for tax deferment, you must be a resident of New Fairfield and must attest to a 20% reduction in household income resulting from being furloughed without pay, a significant reduction in hours or loss of employment since April 1, 2020. Taxes paid through an Escrow accounts cannot be deferred. The Application for this program can be found on the Town website by clicking on the Tax Relief button on the left side of the home page. The application must be received by the Tax Collector on or before July 1.
The Low Interest Rate program reduces the interest charged on past due tax bills for 90 days. The reduced rate is set at 3% per annum, or 0.25% per month. Any tax that comes due between March 10 and July 1, 2020, inclusive, can be covered by this plan. Past due charges that were already delinquent on March 10 shall be subject to the reduced rate until July 1, 2020, at which time, the interest rate goes back to the statutory rate. There is no eligibility requirement for this program however the reduced rate can only be realized if payment is made.
The Governor has also issued an Executive Order prohibiting most evictions, providing an automatic 60 day grace period for April rents and a 60 day grace period for May rents upon request. Details are available on the coronavirus page at ct.gov.
The New Fairfield Social Services/Congregational Church Food Bank will be accepting donations every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 11:00 to 2:00 in the Congregational Church parking lot. Peg’s Mobile Food Pantry will be distributing food on Saturdays, May 2, 16 and 30 from 9:00 – noon in the Squantz Firehouse parking lot. Please call 330-421-2597 for an appointment.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me at 203-312-5600. Stay safe, and stay well. There are better days ahead!