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Keeping seniors in their homes

Published (3/7/2008)
By Courtney Blanchard
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Rising property taxes can, for some senior citizens on a fixed income, make it too expensive to stay in their homes.

So said freshman Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R-Wabasha), who sponsors HF3336. The bill would freeze the estimated value of a home once the owner turns 65 years old, essentially locking their property tax at the same rate until the house is sold.

The House Property Tax Relief and Local Sales Tax Division laid over the bill Feb. 29 for possible inclusion in its omnibus bill. There is no Senate companion.

The estimated cost to the state would be $730,000 in Fiscal Year 2011, according to the Department of Revenue. Drazkowski said the program could possibly save the state money on social services, by keeping senior citizens in their homes and out of assisted care facilities.

Rep. Kurt Zellers (R-Maple Grove) sponsors a similar bill, HF957, which would also freeze property taxes for homeowners over the age of 65, but only for those who have lived in the house for at least 25 years.

The bill would set an annual income limit of $60,000, and add value to the property assessment for improvements to the home. The program would have to be approved first by the affected county.

The bill was also laid over for possible inclusion in the omnibus bill.

Sen. Julianne Ortman (R-Chanhassen) sponsors the companion bill, SF681, which awaits action in the Senate Taxes Committee.

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