The Common Council approved property tax relief for seniors and residents with disabilities during its meeting Wednesday.
The legislation proposed by Mayor Robert Palmieri would increase the income limit for property tax exemptions and create a sliding scale for the exemption as income increases.
In a statement Tuesday, Palmieri outlined the two-step legislation, which would increase the income requirement for a 50% exemption for residents 65 and older from $15,000 to $18,500. The sliding scale would apply to seniors with income between $18,500 and $26,900, with the exemption declining from 50% to the full tax amount.
Prior to the change, any Utica senior above the $15,000 threshold would be required to pay the full property tax bill. The exemption covers 295 seniors currently, but a projected increase to Social Security of 5.9% would have pushed many seniors over the old limit and doubled their property taxes, Palmieri said.
“As a community and society, we have an obligation to do everything we can to protect our most vulnerable residents,” he said. “It is not right or fair that a slight increase in Social Security benefits would put a low-income senior in a worse financial position.”
An executive order from Gov. Kathy Hochul allowed local municipalities to automatically renew property tax exemptions for elderly and disabled residents.
The order was designed to avoid the in-person renewal requirement, and the Common Council approved a resolution for automatic renewal during its meeting Wednesday as well.
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The mayor’s proposal provides easier access to Utica’s relief programs and an equitable way to foster housing stability and affordability to those who need the most assistance, said AARP New York Associate State Director Robyn Haberman on Friday morning.
“Creating livable communities throughout our neighborhoods, where residents of all ages can live, work, raise their families and retire, is a priority for AARP New York,” Haberman said.
Steve Howe is the city reporter for the Observer-Dispatch. Email him at email@example.com.