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Gill Legislative Package to Help Seniors ‘Age in Place’ Approved by Senate

Senator Nia Gill at the first meeting of the Senate Task Force on Health Insurance Exchange Implementation

Centerpiece Bills Focus on Property Tax Relief

 TRENTON – A package of bills sponsored by Senator Nia H. Gill to make it easier for senior citizens to ‘age in place’ in their communities, by improving affordability and livability for aging adults, has been approved by the state Senate. The centerpiece bill focuses on providing property tax relief to seniors, many of whom struggle to afford to live out their later years in the communities where they built their lives. The bill package stems from a series of meetings the senator held with the Montclair Senior Citizens Advisory Committee.

“Many seniors are deciding to remain in their communities as they age. We owe it to our residents to ensure they are able to live out their years as they prefer, and to maintain the high quality of life that they deserve,” said Senator Gill (D-Essex/Passaic). “We have to make sure that our communities are affordable for seniors and that they offer a safe environment that is conducive to a healthy and active lifestyle. These bills would implement important changes that would do that, making it easier for seniors to age in place.”

Research has shown that older adults prefer to stay in their home and communities as they age, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Age-friendly housing, transportation, social and employment opportunities are vital to promoting and supporting the well-being of aging residents, the CDC reports.

The first bill (S2524) focuses on helping to ease the property tax burden for seniors. It would allow municipalities to create a program permitting residents age 60 or older to perform volunteer services for the municipality in which they live in return for property tax vouchers. The “Municipal Volunteer Property Tax Reduction Act” is modeled after a program in Lenox, Mass., and would allow seniors to receive vouchers for up to $1,000 of their property tax burden in the year the volunteer work is conducted.

Two additional bills focus on improving transportation for seniors in the community.  One bill (S2523) would permit towns, cities and parking authorities to create a parking program to offer reduced cost and designated parking to seniors. Under a Senior Citizen Priority Parking Program authorized by a municipality or parking authority, seniors could receive reduced rate parking permits and program-restricted parking spaces.  Another bill (S2521) would create the Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Advisory Council to review, analyze and report on a number of issues related to pedestrian and bicycle safety, including the type of motor vehicle violations that are contributing factors in accidents and possible legislative and regulatory solutions.

“These are important bills that will help to improve the ability of seniors to continue to live in the community for many years,” said Senator Gill. “I want to thank the members of the Montclair Senior Citizens Advisory Committee for their input on the challenges they are facing, which helped to formulate this bill package. I look forward to continuing our work together to advance this effort.”

S-2524 passed by a vote of 35-1. S-2523 passed by a vote of 39-0. S-2521 was approved by a vote of 37-0. All three bills go next to the Assembly for consideration.