Kent County Levy Court approved a revision to the Tax Relief Ordinance that increases the break that elderly and disabled property owners enjoy on their taxes.

Kent County Levy Court has approved a revision to the Tax Relief Ordinance that increases the break that elderly and disabled property owners enjoy on their taxes.

The revision to Kent County Code increases the current income limitation for property owners who are “totally disabled” or who are 65 years old and older from $12,700 to $16,00, Kent County Finance Director Susan Durham said at Tuesday night's Levy Court meeting.

The increase for individuals will help close the gap between the income limit for couples – $22,000 –  and single taxpayers, Durham had said at Levy Court’s Finance Committee meeting on Nov. 1.

“This year we found there was a hardship with the people whose wife or husband passed away,” she said during committee.  “Their income was a little over the $12,700 so they lost the exemption. Yet, they were still maintaining a home. The overhead remained the same [for such things as heat and electricity, etc].”

The measure puts Kent County in line with local municipalities such as the city of Dover and New Castle County, she said.

Commissioner Bradley S. Eaby (District 2) moved to approve the revision to allow partial tax relief for disabled on the basis of no public opposition at Levy Court’s Tuesday night meeting. Eaby is chairman of Levy Court's Finance Committee.

“It will be a benefit to the citizens,” he said. “It will not cost a great deal of money to the county.”

Levy Court Vice President Allan F. Angel (District 3) seconded that motion.

The vote was unanimous, 7-0, at the Kent County Levy Court Adminstrative Complex.

“It’s the right and good thing to do,” Commissioner George “Jody” Sweeney (District 5) said.

Usually, between 1,500 to 2,000 people take advantage of the elderly and totally disabled tax break, Durham said. The county would lose up to $150,000 based on the maximum of 2,000 receiving the break, Durham said.

The average assessed property value of a single family residence in Kent County is $60,000 based on assessments conducted in 1987, Durham said. That amounts to an average tax bill of nearly $200 annually.

Persons eligible for the tax break afforded to seniors and the disabled would receive a reduction of $25,000 on their assessed value, Durham said.

“Having said that, 70 percent of the people who are eligible have an assessed property value that is not $60,000,” she said. “It’s more along the lines of $35,000. So, they would only pay taxes on $10,000.”

The revision to the 1988 Tax Relief Ordinance was prompted by constituents who had called a few commissioners, including Eaby and Eric L. Buckson (District 4), to request an update to the exemption. Levy Court last revised the ordinance in September 2006.

Persons 65 years of age or older by May 31 of a given fiscal year or persons able to document their total disability may qualify to receive a reduction in the amount of their taxable assessment that would reduce or eliminate their property tax liability, according to the Kent County Finance Department. There are half a dozen requirements that must be met for the tax break, including the gross annual income of applicants.

Levy Court’s revision of the tax ordinance also extended the exemption filing for date from April 15 to April 30 and the appeals filing deadline from May 15 to May 30. The revision also required that all taxes, user fees, sewer charges and other taxes and fees be paid in full by the application deadline.