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Reference has been made in the preceding pages of this report to corporations which, by vote of the town, were exempted from the payment of taxes on a part or all of their property. While it evidently was the intent and purpose of the citizens attending the town meetings when such votes of exemption were passed, to encourage and foster manufacturing industries, yet consideration for existing statute law should enter into the matter, and, in the event of such consideration, would prevent action on the part of the towns, so clearly and plainly in violation of the provisions of law. There are numerous decisions bearing upon the subject, which have a direct application to those cases heretofore referred to, and strongly affirm that “where property of a tax-payer has been legally assessed for taxation the town has no power to release him from a portion of his tax, he being of ability to pay." And, "after the Assessors have completed their valuation of property, their work is subject to review and correction by the Board of Relief, and by them only.” As long ago as 1877, the town of Torrington, at a special town meeting, legally warned, which warning contained among other notices of the purpose for which the meeting was called, a specific one with reference to the “collection, or reduction and abatement of the tax against the Coe Brass Manufacturing Company of said town in the tax list of the town for the year 1875."
A vote was passed at the meeting thus called, reducing the amount of tax laid against the company, suit afterwards being brought against the Tax Collector of the Town of Torrington to compel him to collect the full amount of the tax, and the Superior Court of Litchfield County decided, that "a town cannot by a vote exempt property from taxation.” In the face of this decision, however, several towns of the State have passed votes of a nature similar to the one herein referred to, evidently not considering its legality, notably those of the towns of Griswold and Colchester, the first of which voted to exempt the Aspinook Company on all property in excess of $50,000.00, and the latter made the exemption a complete one-the Colchester Shoe Company being the beneficiary—both being direct violations of law.