CENTERVILLE -- Voters decided the city’s 100 percent property tax exemption for seniors should remain unchanged and returned incumbent Randall Wright to his Post 2 City Council seat in Tuesday’s election.
The referendum to change the property tax exemption for seniors failed by a vote of 454 to 288.
Wright won his race against opponent Michael Evans by a vote of 386 to 332.
Mayor John Harley said he was disappointed the referendum failed. Harley helped lead the fight to alter the exemption. He said though he turned 70 this year and now qualifies for the tax cut, he will not take it.
City Council voted unanimously to seek the change by placing it on the ballot.
“I guess the people under 70 will have to bear the burden for police and fire protection for those over 70 as well as themselves,” Harley said. “Everybody uses police and fire protection, but we have a large number that think they should get it free. I have a difficult time understanding that.”
Officials have said the city loses about $200,000 annually due to the exemption. Harley said 92 percent of city property taxes goes toward police and fire protection. He said he and other city officials would continue to do what they need to do to provide services with funds they have.
If it had passed, the measure would have changed the exemption from a 100 percent exemption to a $50,000 tax break. It would have meant the owner of a $100,000 home would have had to pay about $239 in taxes at the current millage rate.
Owners of homes valued at $50,000 and less would continue to pay $0 in tax.
Post 2 Council candidates Wright and Evans shook hands and congratulated one another after results were announced at City Hall in the city’s only contested race. The win brings Wright his eighth term as councilman.
“I look forward to working again with mayor and council for the citizens of Centerville,” he said. “I’m grateful to all those who voted, and, as I’ve said before, I look forward to working on all our citizens’ behalf, especially to grow our tax base and keep services at a high level.”
Wright raised increasing the city’s commercial tax base as a campaign issue.
Evans said he ran for the opportunity to serve the community in which he lived.
“This time I didn’t win, but there will be other opportunities,” he said. “It was a good race.”
According to City Clerk Krista Bedingfield, there are 4,988 registered voters in Centerville.