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Westport Might Seek Charity Status

Human Services Director Barbara Butler last night convinced the Representative Town Meeting to approve four local organizations for the Neighborhood Assistance Act tax credit program. Next year, she might be adding the town of Westport to the list of charities.

RTM member Dick Lowenstein suggested the idea after reading the state statute governing NAA applications. The program allows businesses to receive special tax credits for donations made to approved charities. Included in the list of acceptable organizations are those looking to buy up property for open space usage. He said, “My request is that the town of Westport applies next year for the purpose of land acquisition.”

Lowenstein brought his proposal to the entire RTM at tlast night's meeting. While the state handles paying the tax credits to donating businesses, it is up to municipalities to approve community programs for participation. Lowenstein said he doesn't recall a vote being held the last time a Westport organization wanted to join the program. That was the Interfaith Housing Association in 2000.

This year, Butler worked to increase awareness about the program and persuaded four groups to submit applications: the Westport/Weston Family Y, the Levitt Pavilion, the Children Community Development Center and the Interfaith Housing Association. “I'm kind of the municipal liaison by default,” she told the RTM.

The RTM voted unanimously to approve all of the applications. Lowenstein did question the validity of the Levitt Pavilion's inclusion, but was told the performance center qualified because of the number of free concerts performed there.

The NAA applications were the last of an evening of approvals for the RTM. A $90,202 appropriation was made to the Heart and Hypertension Reserve Fund to help cover a claim made by Anthony Giunta. Daniel Gross and Gary Goldberg were appointed to serve as trustees of the Westport Library. Linda Franciscovich was reappointed to her position on that same board. James W. Hood will continue as the director of the Westport Transit District for another four years.

The next meeting of the full RTM is July 6.

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