HAMILTON COUNTY, Tenn. — Tennessee helps senior citizens with a low incomes pay their property taxes. It’s a tax relief program that’s been around since 1976, according to Bill Hullander with the Hamilton County Trustees Office.
Currently Hamilton County matches 50% of the state’s reimbursement for senior citizens. Commissioner David Sharpe wants to double that to relieve seniors’ tax burden with a proposed 13% property tax increase.
Sharpe is in favor of raising taxes in order to increase funding for public education. The Hamilton County School District is asking for $34 million more than the 2019 budget.
Sharpe and the other eight commissioners will vote on the county budget June 26.
Before they cast their vote, Sharpe plans to present two resolutions at Wednesday’s Commission meeting to relieve the tax burden for senior citizens, veterans and people with disabilities.
First, Sharpe plans to ask the county to double their contribution to low income senior citizens. The 50% matching reimbursement currently costs Hamilton County taxpayers $350,000, according to Hullander.
Homeowners have to be 65 or older and make $29,200 or less combined in order to qualify.
“I think it’s something we can accommodate,” said Sharpe.
Sharpe’s second focus is asking Tennessee lawmakers to include more seniors in this program. He wants to see the income bracket increase to $40,000 annually.
Hullander says only the state has the authority to change that threshold. The Trustees Office doubts the state will make an exception.
“It seems like the elderly, veterans and disabled are the top concern,” said Sharpe.
Sharpe says this resolution is designed to make sure leaders aren’t deciding between students or seniors.
If the resolution passes, it could cost the county anywhere between $720,000 to $1 million annually.
The proposed property tax increase impacts anyone who lives in Hamilton County who is not homeless, according to Sharpe.