Current real estate tax relief for elderly retired, less relief approved

Tax relief for the elderly will be adjusted this year, after a vote, last week, by the Board of Supervisors (BOS.)

According to a staff report the relief program cost the county $2.9 million in revenue in 2008. Today’s cost has inflated to a projected cost of $5.4 million in the fiscal year 2014 budget. Staff projects that the Tax Relief Program will continue to expand at a rate that outstrips growth in revenues or other expense categories and, therefore, a number of program design changes have been explored that could trim the cost in the short-run and, more importantly, preserve the program for the long-run.

The savings to the county taxpayer would save about $750,000 annually.

“We did not vote to raise real estate taxes, but to me this is a tax increase on the elderly and I’m not going to support it,” said Mr. Elswick.

“When we brought this tax relief in, one of the reasons was because tax assessments were really accelerating,” said Dorothy Jaeckle, Chairman and Bermuda District Supervisor. “Since then housing appraisals have dropped considerably especially among those who we were trying to help. And when I look at these income levels that we have, and 27,000 to 39,000 will get 50 percent tax relief, I think that is a pretty sizable tax relief.”

Ms. Jaeckle said that when her family was just getting started that her husband brought in $1,000 a month ($2,600 in today’s dollars) and her house payment was $500 a month but, she said, “We still had to pay our taxes.”

Dan Gecker, Midlothian District Supervisor said that with the savings to the county budget, the new rate is something he could support.

The changes to the Tax Relief Program would not eliminate anyone from the current program.

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