Toledo mayoral candidate Councilman Joe McNamara has introduced legislation that he said would prevent any senior citizens from losing the homestead exemption discount on water, sewer, and trash collection fees since the state has set income limits on who can qualify.
Under Mr. McNamara's legislation, the city's director of public utilities would be responsible for assuring that anyone who is at least 65 years old or is permanently and totally disabled gets the 25-percent discount in water and sewer rates and a $5 monthly refuse collection fee rather than $15.
A Democrat, Mr. McNamara is one of seven people expected to file to run for the job of Toledo mayor in the Sept. 10 election. He said his action shows that he is the only one with the leadership ability to move beyond rhetoric and take action.
"I'm fighting for seniors now and presenting a real solution to the problem now," Mr. McNamara said. “It is unfortunate that other candidates in this race recite slogans and empty rhetoric, while failing to propose any solutions. Toledo needs a mayor with solutions to our problems."
Anita Lopez, the Lucas County auditor and a Democratic candidate for mayor, was the first to raise the issue. She said in a news conference last week that she would ensure that all seniors and residents with disabilities who currently can qualify would continue to get the discount.
Mayor Mike Bell has not commented on whether he would follow the state's new definition of eligibility or support a change in city law to continue exempting all seniors and permanently and totally disabled people.
Independent mayoral candidate D. Michael Collins, also a city councilman, proposed as part of his platform to raise the senior citizen discount from 25 percent to 40 percent.
The two-year budget signed recently by Gov. John Kasich reinstates income restrictions to the homestead exemption discount on property taxes. Under the new budget, new applicants with incomes greater than $30,000 would not qualify for the discount, which is a $25,000 reduction of the property value. Everyone who is already getting the discount would continue to receive it.
Currently, the names of people eligible for the homestead exemption are collected by the county auditor and then forwarded to the city to be credited on property owners' trash, water, and sewer bills. It is expected that only about 40 percent of the people who would now qualify would qualify in the future.
Contact Tom Troy at email@example.com or 419-724-6058.