Friday, May 23, 2014

Gentile calls for property tax relief for senior citizens

Amendment would extend homestead exemption, reinstate property tax rollback, increase Local Government Funds

COLUMBUS - State Senator Lou Gentile (D-Steubenville) offered an amendment that would have repealed Gov. Kasich’s elimination of the 12.5 percent property tax rollback and restored property tax relief to Ohio’s senior citizens. Kasich’s mid-biennium budget review bill, House Bill 483 passed the Senate by a vote of 24-8.

State Sen. Lou Gentile
Last spring, Republicans made drastic changes to the homestead exemption and the property tax rollback during last minute budget negotiations without any public input. The governor’s budget included provisions that have hurt elderly Ohioans and communities across the state.

“By eliminating rollbacks, it negatively affects bond issues being brought forth by schools and local governments,” Gentile said. “These changes were unfair and my proposal today would have restored fairness to schools and property owners by reinstating the 12.5 percent rollback the state pays on local property tax bills for all future new and replacement levies.”

What makes the 12.5% property tax rollback even worse is coupling it with the scaling back of the homestead exemption. Those who are turning 65 and earn more than $30,000 are really going to be hit hard by this budget. This change leaves roughly 40,000 households affected. Democrats urged that if there’s to be a threshold for the homestead exemption it should be based on public input so it’s fair and appropriate and does not hurt the middle class.

"My concern is that the threshold for the homestead exemption is too low, and it will prevent thousands of would-be-seniors, who may be retired, on fixed-incomes or who are struggling financially, from taking advantage of much needed tax relief that they are counting on,” said Gentile. “We shouldn’t raise taxes on senior citizens to pay for income tax cuts that benefit wealthy Ohioans. As the cost of living increases for Ohio’s seniors, the state should take into consideration the impact this will have on their quality of life.”

Gentile also offered support for restoring the funding percentage that local governments and libraries receive from GRF to the level that existed prior to the governor’s cuts. The amendment would have helped raise the local government fund (LGF) percentage to 3.68% and the Public Library Fund (PLF) percentage to 2.22%.

HB 483 now moves to the House of Representatives to review and approve the changes made in the Senate. If agreement cannot be reached, the bill will go to a conference committee. The bill must be approved by the end of June. 

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