ORANGE >> The Board of Selectmen has voted unanimously to increase the property tax exemption for veterans from $10,000 to $20,000 on the assessed value of property.

The request for increase was made to the board by resident Paul Tarbox, a veteran who works for the Veterans Affairs Committee of the state General Assembly.

First Selectman James Zeoli said at the time of the recent vote that despite tough financial times because of the state’s budget deficit and proposed cuts that will trickle to municipalities, it should be emphasized the selectmen “wholeheartedly endorsed” the exemption because it is for veterans.

Zeoli provided selectmen an email from Tax Assessor Mark Branchesi, saying the current exemption at $10,000 provides an individual exemption of $322 reduction in taxes and the exemption is used by 172 veterans for a total cash loss to the town of $55,384. Under the new rule, the exemption would double to $644 and the estimated total cost would be $110,768.

Branchesi’s email concluded, “It is important to remember that the pool of recipients dwindles every year due to death or sale.”

The exemption increase was made under recently passed legislation that allows municipalities increase the exemption from $10,000 to $20,000. Under the statute, there is a qualifying income for the exemption to be taken and recipients are 65 years or older and of limited means, according to Branchesi’s email.

Tarbox, in his letter to Zeoli and selectmen requesting the change, said “Orange has a long history of being pro-veteran.”

Under the provision passed, a surviving spouse is entitled to an exemption providing his or her unmarried income doesn’t exceed the limit.