Changes proposed to seniors measure

Council to consider tax-cut-bill revisions

October 29, 2006|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,sun reporter

Two amendments have been filed that would, if adopted by the Howard County Council tomorrow, change a bill intended to give homeowners 70 and older with an annual household income of $75,000 or less a 25 percent property tax cut.

Sponsored by Calvin Ball, an east Columbia Democrat who moved to table the bill this month, one amendment would exclude any homeowner with assets over $200,000, not counting his or her house and land, retirement accounts and personal property.

The second amendment would replace the fixed-income limit with a sliding scale of 80 percent of median Howard County income, or a maximum of about $70,500.

Seniors with incomes at or near that level would pay more than homeowners with lower incomes, and those with incomes under $20,000 a year would pay no county property tax, Ball said. In addition, the tax credit would rise each year based on that year's full tax bill, instead of being fixed at a base-year level.

As a result, Ball said, the program would cost the county between $500,000 and $2 million annually in lost revenue, instead of the $2 million to $4 million the original bill was estimated to cost.

The bill was sponsored by Republicans Charles C. Feaga and council Chairman Christopher J. Merdon, a candidate for county executive.

Ken Ulman, a west Columbia Democrat and also a candidate for executive, has said the Democrats will support property tax relief for senior citizens.

Scores of seniors have rallied in support of the bill, while a few, including members of the county's Commission on Aging, have urged delay and more study.

The meeting is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. in the council chambers, George Howard Building, 3430 Court House Drive, Ellicott City.

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