Centerville council continues discussion of whether to eliminate property tax exemption for seniors

Telegraph correspondentMarch 5, 2013 

CENTERVILLE -- City Council is keeping the idea of doing away with the city’s senior property tax exemption at the forefront.

Members used Tuesday’s regular council meeting to again discuss the matter, which they have asked remain a regular agenda item for their monthly meetings and work sessions.

“I want to keep the topic fresh,” said Councilman Ed Tucker. “We need to visit it over and over.”

Tucker told council of a conversation he had with a Centerville resident, who he asked if they minded paying county and education taxes for services they didn’t directly receive. He said they said no.

Tucker said he then asked if it bothered them to receive services in Centerville, such as police and fire protection, for which they never paid. He said they said, “Now it does.”

Tucker said if others realized what was at stake now and in the future if the exemption for homeowners 70 and over remains intact, he believes the majority would be convinced the exemption should be abandoned.

Council cannot do away with the exemption, but it can put it on a November ballot to have residents decide the matter.

Tucker said $1.5 million has been lost in revenue during the existence of the exemption, funds the city needs to provide services. He said current services for those over 70 are being paid for by those under that age.

Councilman Cameron Andrews said if the exemption continued, in days to come the city would be forced to reduce services.

“If we don’t address it now, we’ll have to address it in the future,” he said. He also said it was the job of council to look five or 10 years down the road into the city’s future, and the exemption was proving too costly to continue. He said services residents are used to could not be maintained at the same level or expanded, which he said needs to happen.

Mayor John Harley also said he had spoken to residents 70 and older who saw the need to do away with the exemption.

Centerville resident Ralph Kennedy, who said he was nearing 70, told council members that in years past he had stood before them in favor of the exemption, but now he was not doing that.

In other matters, council rescinded a 2008 ordinance requiring permits for burglar alarms. The ordinance is being done away with at the request of Centerville Police Chief Sidney Andrews, who said the problem of too many false alarm responses his department was experiencing in 2008 was no longer a problem. The measure was unanimously approved.

Council also took care of paperwork required by the state for cities seeking long-term financing. Council is seeking such financing for a new law enforcement center that is being built from special purpose local option sales tax receipts.

Also during the meeting, Councilman Jon Nichols, who is seeking the position on the Houston County Board of Education vacated by former board Chairman Tom Walmer, said that if he got the post he would resign council, and if he did not get the post, he would remain.

Contact Michael W. Pannell at

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