For the first time in the city's history, council members extended complete property tax relief to hundreds of senior citizens Tuesday, a move to help residents burdened by rising healthcare costs.
"It's not unusual for [seniors] to come in and say, ‘We pay our taxes first… then we buy groceries and medicine,'" said Petersburg Commissioner of Revenue Pamela Hairston. "And that's concerning."
The resolution provides seniors with household incomes under $25,000 100 percent relief from property taxes. Seniors earning less than $35,000 will receive 50 percent relief. Petersburg will also allow citizens who are considered disabled to apply for the tax break.
"I'm on a fixed income, and it will certainly help me," said Petersburg senior Carroll Joe in an interview Tuesday. "A lot of the elderly want to stay in the area they were born and raised in. That includes me, here in Petersburg."
Residents can find applications for the tax relief at City Hall, or on the City's website. People who dial Petersburg City Hall can also request to have the application sent to them in the mail.
The measure was unanimously approved Tuesday night at the City Council's final meeting of the year. Citizens can begin submitting their applications March 1 through May 1, 2013. The policy will go into effect July 2013, the beginning of the new fiscal year.
"Prices are constantly going up, food prices are increasing, housing costs are increasing," said Petersburg senior Cynthia Morris. "Most of us have medicines to pay for, and we're trying to just survive."
Similar tax relief measures exist in neighboring Hopewell, Colonial Heights, Dinwiddie and Prince George Counties. Petersburg projects a revenue loss of $69,195 resulting from the plan. But council members said Tuesday funds would drop even further if seniors moved away to areas with lower taxes.
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