Gov. Ted Strickland found himself before a receptive audience yesterday as he shared details of the state's new two-year budget at a South Toledo senior center.
Under the budget, all Ohio senior citizens will qualify for a property tax exemption that could save them hundreds of dollars a year.
The news drew applause from the nearly 60 seniors who came to listen to the governor's remarks during lunch hour at the Mayores Senior Center.
"We're going to have a property tax cut for every senior citizen homeowner in Ohio," Mr. Strickland said. "I was here earlier - some weeks ago - and we talked about that possibility and it's happened."
The $52.3 billion budget, approved by Ohio lawmakers, is awaiting the governor's signature.
Its homestead property tax exemption will expand to include any homeowner who is
65 or older or is permanently disabled. In the past, the exemption has been based on seniors' income levels.
The new program forgives the first $25,000 of property value when calculating a homeowner's bill. That exemption will result in an expected cut of $392 from the tax bill of a typical Toledo homeowner with property worth $68,000.
It will translate to $448 in savings for the typical Maumee homeowner; $483 in Sylvania; $369 in Oregon, and $569 in Ottawa Hills.
Those living within the Anthony Wayne Local School District will save about $385; $432 for those within the Springfield Local School District, and $378 for those in the Washington Local School District.
Lucas County Auditor Anita Lopez unveiled a program to enroll the approximately 12,000 seniors in the county who will qualify for the homestead exemption for the first time.
Beginning next month, those seniors can sign up for the benefit during certain days and hours at area senior centers and township halls. The application deadline is Oct. 1.
Ms. Lopez said her office also can provide one-on-one assistance to homeowners who cannot attend the sign-up sessions. These homeowners are asked to call 419-213-4406.
More than 8,500 Lucas County homeowners are enrolled in the exemption program now based on their income level. Ms. Lopez stressed that those enrolled do not need to reapply.
If there is any difference in the size of a homeowner's exemption between the current system and the new one, the homeowner will receive the larger benefit, Ms. Lopez said.
Governor Strickland shared the podium with Teresa Fedor (D., Toledo), the Senate Democratic leader, and Rep. Mark Wagoner (R., Ottawa Hills).
Each representative praised the others' cooperation and willingness to comprise during the budget process.
"We've come up with a budget that we think will move Ohio forward," Mr. Strickland said.