Toledo City Council unanimously approved legislation Tuesday to ensure no senior citizens lose the homestead-exemption discount on water, sewer, and trash collection fees even though Ohio has reinstated income limits on who qualifies for the property-tax exemption.
Councilman Joe McNamara wrote the proposal, which he said was necessary after the state changed the rules for property tax homestead-exemptions.
Toledo’s director of public utilities would be responsible for assuring that anyone who is at least 65 or is permanently and totally disabled gets the 25 percent discount on water and sewer rates and is charged a $5 monthly refuse-collection fee rather than $15.
“I want to thank everyone for standing up for seniors,” Mr. McNamara said after the 12-0 vote.
City law previously tied the water, sewer, and trash collection discounts to eligibility for the homestead exemption. With income restrictions for that property-tax discount reinstated in Ohio’s new biennial budget, the city law needed updating to preserve the utility discounts, Mr. McNamara said.
Under the new state budget, new applicants who make more than $30,000 a year, excluding Social Security benefits, would not qualify for the discount, which is a $25,000 reduction of the property value. All current homestead recipients would be grandfathered.
Council on Tuesday also voted 12-0 to accept a $200,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to fund a brownfield-redevelopment plan for vacant industrial and commercial land just east of the Overland Industrial Park, the former Jeep plant site in central Toledo.
In other business, council:
■ Voted to approve a special-use permit for a West Toledo church at the corner of Rushland Avenue and Monroe Street to be used as a charter school — a request that was opposed by some neighbors who said they had inadequate information about the proposal and were worried about traffic. Hope Learning Academy, a public charter school catering to students with disabilities, plans to open this fall at the Hampton Park Christian Church of Toledo, 4234 Monroe St. The permit was approved 11-0. Councilman Adam Martinez abstained because the building is being marketed by the firm that holds his real estate license.
■ Voted 12-0 in favor of a special-use application from Rudolph/Libbe for a solar-panel array at the vacant, 22-acre former Haughton Elevator property at 671 Spencer St., northeast of the Toledo Zoo and along the Anthony Wayne Trail in South Toledo. The Lake Township-based company announced plans in June to build a 2-megawatt solar array, which will include about 25,000 solar panels on 15 acres. The array is projected to provide the zoo with about 30 percent of its electricity once it begins providing power in 2014.
■ Voted 11-1 to give the African American Legacy Project $20,000 from the city’s general fund and 11-1 to give the University of Toledo Urban Affairs Center $30,000 from the general fund. Councilman Tom Waniewski voted against both requests.
“I think we have gotten to another slippery slope of appropriating general fund money to nonprofits,” Mr. Waniewski said.