Senior citizens could be absent from the borough for as long as six months and remain eligible for the senior property tax exemption under amendments proposed by Borough Mayor John Williams and Assemblyman Paul Fischer.
The current exemption law prohibits qualifying senior homeowners from being gone from the borough longer than 120 days per tax year, except under specific circumstances, if they wish to remain eligible for the borough's exemption from property taxes applying to value above $150,000.
A state law mandates seniors be exempted from taxes for property value up to $150,000.
Until recently, the borough's exemption above the $150,000 level was unlimited. A successful ballot proposition passed by voters Oct. 2 capped the exemption at $300,000, meaning seniors will start paying taxes on values in excess of that amount when the law goes into effect in January.
Ordinance 2007-39, the only ordinance up for public hearing at the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly's Tuesday meeting, would apply the criteria used by the state in determining eligibility for the state's mandated tax exemption. That includes requiring seniors not to be gone from the state in excess of 183 days, the same restriction applying to eligibility for an Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend check.
The borough lacks an efficient and effective way to police the 120-day restriction, borough officials have said. On the other hand, the state has a well-funded anti-fraud program that does monitor the 183-day rule.
"Given the change in the magnitude of the exemption and the practical problems with enforcement, the borough's best interests would be served by making the qualifications for the exemption the same, regardless of the value of the property," Williams and Fischer said.
In other business, the assembly is expected to:
* Consider enacting Ordinance 2007-19-22 appropriating $850,000 in interest income to the South Peninsula Hospital expansion project.
* Consider enacting Ordinance 2007-33 (substitute) amending borough code applying to streets, sidewalks, roads and trails and subdivisions and providing for roads to be built to borough standards before final plats are approved.
* Introduce Ordinance 2007-19-33 accepting and appropriating an Alaska Housing Finance Corp. grant of $523,650 to build teacher housing in Nanwalek. The ordinance includes appropriating $200,000 in matching funds.
* Introduce Ordinance 2007-41 authorizing Williams to execute a sublease and operating agreement with South Peninsula Hospital Inc. Hearings would be scheduled for Jan. 8 and Jan. 22.
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