“One thing we hope to learn through a survey,” she added, “is if the tax exemption is dramatically reduced, will that influence whether you stay or move? Let’s say, for example, you’re taking the exemption right now and you’re saving $4,000 in taxes. But with the new exemption, you might only save $1,000. If you have to come up with another $3,000 a year, how would that influence whether you stay or leave?”
Essentially Collins believes the committee’s main focus is taking a deeper dive into the data than GSU. She points out that in the second billing of 2019 1,391 residents 65 and over took the school tax exemption. She feels the committee needs to break it down into how many were 70 and over, 75 and over and 80 and over.
The committee’s deadline for recommending a new exemption to the board is Sept. 1. The original exemption had a five-year sunset, meaning it expires Dec. 31, 2021. For a revised exemption to take effect in Jan. 2022, CSD must introduce new legislation to the state’s General Assembly during the 2021 session.
Even with all the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, including when the general assembly will meet next year, Superintendent David Dude said recently, “I can’t imagine any flexibility on extending the Senior Homestead Exemption. That’s one deadline that feels absolutely firm. We need to keep this moving despite what’s happening around us.”
Collins says she has no doubt about delivering the recommendations on time.
“We need the data and the input from the community,” she said. “As long as we can get that, we can figure out the best way to spend that $1.2 million.