NK proposes raising limits on tax relief for elderly, disabled
Income limits for New Kent’s elderly and disabled to qualify for up to a $500 reduction in their real estate tax bills were upped by $5,000 last year. This year, county supervisors are looking into a $10,000 increase.
Supervisors, meeting Monday in a work session, scheduled a March 10 public hearing on the proposal, which has been recommended by county revenue commissioner Laura Ecimovic.
In a Jan. 15 letter to the board, Ecimovic requested that the current $25,000 annual income ceiling for an elderly or disabled resident to qualify for relief be raised to $35,000 and the overall household income limit be increased from $35,000 to $45,000. Also, she is asking to up the household’s financial worth from the current $50,000 to $75,000.
Speaking for Ecimovic, who could not attend the session, County Administrator John Budesky told the board that the county is looking to increase residents’ participation in the tax relief program.
“We believe the program with these changes will allow us to almost double the participation of our elderly and handicapped,” Budesky told supervisors.
Last year, 69 county residents qualified for the program with tax relief totaling just over $33,000. Provided supervisors approve the changes, Ecimovic estimates 2008 relief at close to $50,000.
“People have to understand the program doesn’t devalue their residence,” Budesky said. “It allows them to see more benefit through tax reduction and gives them more money to live on on a daily basis.”
Only one property owner must be age 65 or older or disabled in order for a household to qualify, provided income and financial worth standards are met. Budesky said county officials plan to embark on an awareness program through county churches and other organizations to publicize the program and attract applicants.
Residents can apply under the proposed income and financial limits, even though supervisors have yet to approve the measures. Residents with questions can call the revenue commissioner’s office at 966-9610. Applications must be filed before July 1.
In another matter relating to the county’s elderly and disabled, supervisors voted to take $5,600 from the county’s contingency fund to help 30 households who were left out of the county’s Septic Pump-out Assistance Program when grant money ran out.
New Kent was awarded a $6,000 Chesapeake Bay Implementation Grant to assist residents 65 and older or disabled with septic pump-out or inspection costs.
Fifty-nine applications were received, county environmental planning manager Amy Walker told the board, but grant money ran out after only 29 were helped.
Budesky said the county is not required to appropriate the money, but doing so is an opportunity to assist New Kent people. The $5,600 will cover the 30 remaining applicants.
In another matter, supervisors by consensus opted to have Budesky factor into next year’s budget process a proposal to grant a 50 percent personal property tax reduction for county fire/rescue volunteers and sheriff’s auxiliary members. The reduction would apply only to one vehicle.
Budesky said the estimated overall reduction in personal property tax money taken in by the county would amount to just under $13,000 based on current volunteer numbers. A final figure, he said, could be closer to $20,000.
If approved, a 50 percent reduction would mean an average of almost $194 in yearly tax savings for volunteers.
In other business, supervisors:
–Passed a resolution initiating county Planning Commission review of a proposal to rezone 143 acres that encompass the new and existing high school sites from agricultural to general residential. Rezoning will bring the land into compliance with New Kent zoning law and provide one uniform zoning for the county administration/school complex;
–Agreed by consensus that Colonial Soil and Water Conservation District staff proceeds with a $266,665 federal grant application that would fund a voluntary program for landowners, both residential and business, in the Route 155 corridor to use best management practices aimed at protecting the Chickahominy River watershed. Supervisors could take action to approve the grant, which requires a 25 percent local match, during their Feb. 11 meeting.