ELYRIA — While city officials contemplate increasing sanitation rates for the next three years, some of them said there’s a chance residents might be missing out on a discounted rate.
The lower rate is for homeowners who receive the homestead exemption on their real estate property taxes.
Safety Service Director Mary Siwierka said she does not know who in the city receives the credit to determine if all homeowners are paying the reduced sanitation rate, which at $17.92 per month is $7.68 less than the standard sanitation rate of $25.60.
In recent months as City Council debates a proposal to increase sanitation rates less than $1 each year for the next three years, Siwierka said calls have come into the Mayor’s Office and Utilities Department from homeowners who receive the tax exemption but are not receiving the sanitation rate discount.
“We have no way of knowing who receives the discount and who does not,” Siwierka said. “When property owners receive a letter from the Lorain County Auditor’s Office confirming the exemption, we ask they bring it to us so we can put the discount on the account. A lot of homeowners don’t even know the discount exists, so we are making a concerted effort to get the word out. “
Upcoming bills will include a notice to residents about the rate reduction and how to apply for it.
County Auditor Craig Snodgrass said there is no process on his side to let homeowners know the Elyria discount is available but that his office would be happy to work with Elyria on some targeted mailings to increase awareness.
The homestead exemption is available to income-eligible homeowners who are age 65 or older or are totally and permanently disabled, regardless of age. It is based on a formula that looks at gross income as determined by federal tax returns. Residents can apply throughout the year to receive the discount and must reapply each year to see if they continue to meet the income thresholds.
The exemption is basically a tax credit that allows a homeowner to exempt up to $25,000 of the market value of their home from all local property taxes. It could save homeowners several hundred dollars a year in taxes, Snodgrass said.
Using a home with a market value of $100,000 as an example, Snodgrass said the homestead exemption would place the value of the home at $75,000 for tax purposes.
Siwierka said there also is a lower water rate for customers who receive a homestead exemption, although the discount is much smaller.
“With the sanitation rate, the whole idea is generally people who are on homestead are going to generate less trash and should pay the reduced rate,” she said. “It has been on the books for a long time, but somehow it has become this thing that people are not aware exists.”
Council members have not approved the new rates as proposed.
The suggested rates are $26.50 per month for 2018, $27.42 per month for 2019 and $28.38 per month in 2020. The homestead rate would go from $17.92 per month to $18.55 per month in 2018, $19.20 per month in 2019 and $19.87 monthly in 2020.