Commissioners Vote to Retain $12,000 Exemption
Lee County Commissioners voted to retain a $12,000 exemption for disabled persons and people 65 years of age or older last Monday morning. The exemption had been honored for almost three decades, but no Resolution that supported the exemption could be found in the County records. The exemption came into question last year when Lee County voted to adopt a ceiling on property tax valuations for seniors and the disabled. With this vote by the Commissioners, both the exemption and the ceiling are in place for these tax payers.
At the Commissioner's Court on Monday, April 13, 2009, the Court heard a presentation by the Chief Appraiser, Patricia Davis, and the Tax Assessor/Collector, Suzanne Kessler, concerning the homestead exemption for disabled persons and homeowners 65 or older. Davis explained to the Court that, as best she could determine, the current $12,000 exemption was implemented back in about 1980 when the State made a mandatory change to the method of setting the appraised amount.
She explained that at that time the State mandated that the appraised value of property be set at 100% of market value instead of the 25% that was then in effect in Lee County. The result of this was that, for taxing purposes, property values were increased about three times. Because of this, the then $3,000 exemption for those over 65 was increased to $12,000 at the same time. Davis said that she was unable to find any record of this amount ever being set by a Resolution of any Court Session. Therefore, it is unclear if an official action to do this was taken or if it was just put in place as a part of complying with the state mandate.
When the voters of Lee County adopted a ceiling on tax valuation changes last year, the amount of any exemption was left to the Court to determine. With valuation notices soon to be sent out to the property owners, the Court needed to officially set an exemption amount. After considerable discussion the Court unanimously voted to retain the $12,000 exemption for disabled persons and Homeowners 65 or older.