Votes tallied on senior tax exemptions

Mat-Su votes on property tax; Petersburg on sales tax

Voters in the Mat-Su Borough expanded property tax exemptions for seniors in the October election, while voters in Petersburg tightened up the senior sales tax exemption there.

The Mat-Su change will increase the Senior Citizens and Disabled Veterans Property Tax Exemption to $218,000 of the assessed value of the applicant’s home. In other words, if a senior’s home is assessed at $300,000 in value, $218,000 of that amount would be exempt and property taxes would be paid only on the remaining $82,000. Currently, the exemption is $170,000, which is $20,000 above the minimum $150,000 required by state law.

The borough is projected to lose an estimated $2.4 million in tax revenue as a result of the exemption increase. But Mat-Su voters passed the ordinance overwhelmingly on Oct. 7.

The exemption is for seniors age 65 and older, veterans, including those who served in the Territorial Guard, and widows or widowers age 60 or older who were married to someone who qualified for the exemption.

Petersburg sales tax

In Petersburg, there were five different propositions on the ballot dealing with the senior sales tax exemption, in which locals age 65 or older present a card allowing them to not have to pay the city sales tax on purchases. Of the five propositions, two passed: one eliminates the exemption for non-borough residents, and the other establishes a stricter residency requirement that individuals applying for the card must be physically present in the borough for 185 days of the year. Previously, the only requirement was that applicants show proof of a local address and say they intend to reside in the borough.

Among those voted down were proposals to sunset the program, eliminating the exemption altogether in 2020, and a proposal to limit the exemption to heating fuel and groceries only. Voters defeated both by large margins.

The new guidelines go into effect Jan. 1, 2015, according to the Petersburg Borough clerk’s office.