I am concerned about what is happening right here on the Kenai Peninsula.
As most senior citizens know, the law allows the owner of a home, upon reaching age 65, to be exempt from property taxes. You pay faithfully during those productive years and then when reaching that magical number of 65, you apply for your exemption knowing that your longed-for Social Security check will not be eaten up by property taxes.
Well, I’ve got news for you. Being exempted is not a guarantee. Let me explain further.
Although a bit unusual, I have shared a rather large house with two other families for over 30 years. Shortly after moving here, we were asked by a neighbor if we would house his son while he, the neighbor, was away working on construction. We agreed to do so and soon others were asking the same of us. Noting that many of these youth were coming from needy homes often without proper nutrition, we felt it incumbent upon ourselves to adhere to the scriptural admonishment to “feed the hungry, clothe the naked and shelter the homeless.”
This we have done faithfully. In addition we have accepted many adults who were having their own personal struggle with alcoholism and/or drugs. Because of our large home, we have been able to house and help hundreds of needy adults and children on the Kenai Peninsula. We have not charged a fee, but have accepted meager donations to help with the cost. However, the donations have never come near the cost of providing for these needy. (Please note that we have always considered ourselves a private home and have not taken government entitlements.)
Now comes the kicker. Upon reaching the age of 65, I applied for a one-third reduction in my property taxes, the amount owed me as I am a one-third owner of the property. Guess what? The Kenai Borough Assessing department tells me I am not eligible for the one-third exemption.
Again, let this be a warning to all senior citizen property holders.
Why am I not eligible? Because I have tried to hold to the Bible’s admonition that we “feed the hungry, clothe the naked and shelter the homeless.”
The assessors say I am ineligible because I have a few bedrooms dedicated to the homeless. Furthermore, my daughter and three grandchildren are living with us at a time of need and even housing them makes me ineligible for the exemption.
I ask, where is the compassion of the borough? What is happening right here under our noses?
Why should I be punished for simply following my religious beliefs of helping the poor and needy?
When meeting with them, I asked the assessors, “What about the many other senior citizens who house a relative or loved one on the peninsula?”
Their terse reply: “If we find out about it, they won’t get the exemption either.”
Frankly, I expected better than this from our borough government.
David W. O’Dell
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