CENTERVILLE -- City Council has tabled until October any efforts to do away with the citys senior citizen tax exemption.
When they take it up again, council members said they likely will ask residents to vote on a limited $100,000 property tax exemption for seniors over 70 rather than completely dismantling the current 100 percent tax break for seniors.
The council agreed unanimously during its regular meeting Tuesday to postpone efforts after learning county election officials who provide voting machines and poll workers for city elections could not commit to supporting a Centerville referendum on the exemption during the November election.
City Councilman Edward Tucker, who raised the original idea of trying to get voters to kill the exemption, made the motion to table. He and other members said they would look at the matter again in October with a view to have residents vote on something during a special election in March 2013 or in November 2013.
The council also agreed it would look at the possibility of a limited $100,000 tax break rather than doing away with the entire exemption.
Tucker said the idea of the full tax exemption continuing for everyone over 70 scared him when he considered city finances, the growing over-70 population and the citys mandate to provide services to everyone whether they paid taxes or not.
Councilmen Randall Wright and Jonathan Nichols discussed the fact that the original exemption was created when there were few people over 70 in Centerville, and most of those were widows living on reduced incomes whose homes could be in jeopardy if they were forced to pay city taxes.
Council members were in general agreement that a $100,000 exemption could serve the original intent of the tax break, keep it limited to that original intent and help the city pay for services.
City Attorney Rebecca Tydings said a $100,000 exemption across the board cap for senior citizens over the age of 70 would make the benefit fair.
If the council decides to have voters decide on a measure with a $100,000 limited exemption rather than vote to scrap the entire exemption -- and it passes -- homeowners would pay the regular city taxes on the valued amount of their property over $100,000.
Mayor John Harley called the councils decision to look at a $100,000 exemption an excellent plan and said it would give city officials time to look at tax figures in relation to a $100,000 exemption.
Contact Michael W. Pannell at firstname.lastname@example.org.