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Johnstown weighs exemptions for veterans, seniors

Tax breaks estimated to cost $41K

August 5, 2008
By MICHAEL ANICH, The Leader-Herald

JOHNSTOWN - The Common Council will consider city property tax exemption changes for veterans and senior citizens.

The council discussed the possible action - which officials said could decrease the city tax levy by about $41,000 - at a committee meeting Monday at City Hall.

The action being considered would be similar to what the Fulton County Board of Supervisors did in June regarding tax exemptions.

"The county has done this, and we usually mirror what they do," Mayor Sarah J. Slingerland said.

The Board of Supervisors in June adopted an amended Cold War-era veteran property tax exemption. It would allow a 15 percent exemption on taxed property value. It is the same percentage that wartime veterans receive. The exemption is for male or female veterans who served on active duty from Sept. 2, 1945, to Dec. 26, 1991.

Supervisors in June also increased the maximum eligibility level for the county's existing senior citizens property tax exemption. In 1990, supervisors implemented a real property tax exemption sliding scale option to people 65 or older. A resolution from 1997 increased the maximum eligibility of the exemption to $16,999.

The action taken recently by the board raises that level to $19,999 - in effect in the 2009 assessment roll. Seniors with annual income up to $14,300 would be eligible for a 50 percent exemption. Seniors with annual income between $14,301 and $19,999 would be eligible for a 20 percent exemption.

County officials estimated that raising the maximum income-eligibility level for Fulton County's senior citizens would reduce the total taxable property value in the county from about $1.9 billion to about $1.896 billion.

At the current average county tax rate of $9.76 per $1,000 of assessed property value, that $4 million difference would equate to an additional $39,000 levied from non-exempt taxpayers.

Johnstown City Treasurer Michael Gifford told the council Monday that his "guesstimate" is the new veterans exemption may decrease the levy by about $16,000.

City Assessor Leamon Steele said the raised senior exemption in the city may result in about $25,000 in lost tax revenue.

In other financial reports, Slingerland said she has asked city department heads to prepare their individual budgets for preparation of the proposed 2009 city budget.

She said the city is "on track" with its budget process.

Michael Anich covers Fulton County and Johnstown. He can be reached by e-mail at



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