LOCKPORT – For the first time in 10 years, the Niagara County Legislature raised the income levels for senior citizens and disabled people to be eligible for property tax breaks.
The Legislature voted Thursday to make tax reductions available to property owners over age 65 whose annual income is below $28,499, and to disabled persons with an annual income of $25,900 or less.
The last time the Legislature adjusted the income thresholds, in 2006, the limits were $25,524 for seniors and $23,425 for the disabled.
The exemptions are pegged to a sliding scale. The largest available break is 50 percent, but that’s available only to seniors earning less than $21,000 a year or disabled persons with incomes under $17,500.
The new standards, sponsored by Legislator Anthony J. Nemi, I-Lockport, will take effect Jan. 1, meaning they won’t be available until the 2018 county tax bills.
“This is something long overdue for our aging population and our disabled people,” Nemi said. The disabled applicants must be receiving Social Security disability or similar benefits.
There are currently 2,699 senior exemptions and 319 disabled exemptions in effect, according to county Real Property Tax Services Director John E. Shoemaker. He said there is no way of knowing how many more people will be eligible until applications are received next year.
On another topic Thursday, the Legislature granted DePaul Properties, a Rochester not-for-profit housing developer, the right to issue up to $12 million in tax-exempt bonds to finance construction of Wheatfield Commons, a 114-unit assisted living and memory care facility being built on Forest Parkway, off Shawnee Road. The bonds will be debts of DePaul, not the county.