Needy seniors may get tax break from city

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

While many Shelbyville residents will be paying more property tax, the elderly will be looking at tax relief.

Councilman Leonard Travis says he will make a motion at next Thursday's Shelbyville City Council meeting to give a tax break to those age 65 and older or totally disabled and income of $20,000 or less.

The state of Tennessee provides tax relief for people in that category, but last year the required income was $13,000 instead of $20,000.

The law was also recently amended by the General Assembly. Previously, only those who lived in a metropolitan government, such as Nashville or Lynchburg Moore County were eligible for the tax cut.

But that restriction has been removed, and the law now allows for any municipality to give the elderly the tax break.

The motion Travis plans to make will give those who qualify a break in an amount equal to the increase between the city's certified rate and the actual rate, 12 percent.

Last week, the city council decided that Shelbyville's new tax rate will be $1.41, exceeding the certified rate of $1.26 by 15 cents. The tax is going down six cents from the current rate of $1.47.

The tax relief works by applying to the first $25,000 in value of a property. Last year's tax relief was $59; however, this year it will be $88.

Those who qualify would be able to come to city hall and apply for tax relief. Once the information is in the system, the tax bill will be produced with the $88 deducted.

The council will also hold a public hearing over the new tax rate, which will be held before the regularly scheduled meeting at 6 p.m. in the courtroom in the city hall annex.

In other budget business, the council heard from Argie Cooper Public Library Director Pat Hastings, who urged the council to reconsider their decision not to provide an increase of $8,377 in funding from the city.

Hastings had made the request several weeks ago for half of the library's operating budget, $124,906, which includes an increase in personnel due to changes in staff, training of new people and more substitute work than usual.

She stressed that the library is not a non-profit organization, but a community service and said that the funds requested was for a budget that saw no growth. Without the increase, she said it would be "a big hardship" on the library.

The council will also approve the appropriations for non-profits organization during next Thursday's meeting.