Mayor Ken Suffridge introduced Crawford during the group’s July meeting.
He also asked Crawford to explain two questions that will appear on the July 31st ballot.
“Rick has authored these bills,” Suffridge said. “He can give you detailed information about each.”
Crawford explained that the new homestead exemptions would not replace but expand existing rules.
He said HB 616 addresses school property taxes for senior citizens. It is intended to benefit seniors with very limited incomes by eliminating or at least significantly reducing their school property taxes. In order to qualify, seniors must be age 70 or above with net annual household income of $10,000.00 or less.
“Believe it or not, we really do have seniors in Polk County doing their best to get by on a Social Security check of $700 - $800 per month,” he said.
Those who qualify will have their homestead exemption increased to $30,000.00, which would exempt the first $75,000.00 of the home’s fair market value from school taxes.
This means that qualifying seniors with homes valued at $75,000.00 or less would be completely exempt from school property taxes; those with homes valued at a higher amount would pay school property taxes only on the difference.
HB 617 applies to school taxes for all homeowners in Polk County regardless of age or income, according to Crawford.
Once in effect, this will automatically entitle all Polk homeowners to an increase in their homestead exemption for school taxes any time the assessed value of their home (except for additions or improvements) increases by more than 10% compared to the prior year’s value.
For example, suppose a home valued at $100,000.00 the prior year is reassessed to a new fair market value of $130,000.00.
Because the increase is more than 10%, that homeowner then becomes entitled to an additional homestead exemption to offset the difference. This means that the tax amount would be based on $110,000.00 instead of $130,000.00.
In other words, he said, the amount of the school tax bill will never increase more than 10% over the prior year’s bill no matter how much the assessed value increases.