Homestead breaks for seniors safe this year, Arnold says

Published 10:48 am Thursday, March 20, 2014

John-Arnold

Anyone who turned 65 since Jan. 1 must visit the courthouse at some point before August 31 when property tax rolls are set to secure homestead exemption on their home or land, District 1 Supervisor John Arnold said.
Property taxes for 2013 were due Feb. 1. Since then, the county board and the Tax Assessor’s Office have quarreled over differing parts of state law governing homestead exemptions for seniors. One section limits all applications to the first three months of the year, while another allows amendments to be filed by the late summer. The board favors handling all applications long before a budget is adopted in September; Assessor Angela Brown has recognized the later deadline.
Arnold told the Vicksburg Kiwanis this week the confusion essentially began over birthdays.
“If you turned 65 in 2013, you don’t get an exemption on the taxes you’re paying now because last year’s was for 2012,” Arnold said. “We’re having a hard time getting that across.
“If you’re 65, you need to come in and file an amended application. And really and truly, we can take applications until the end of August.”
The county accepted 211 applications for February. Of 371 the state Department of Revenue disallowed for 2014, 281 were for irregularities with income tax information.
Arnold, 60, a first-term supervisor and real estate broker, summed up balancing faith and public life as his biggest challenge.
“‘Politician’ can be a scary word,” Arnold said. “One thing I had to look at was if I could be a Christian and be a politician.”
Questions about library funding and the future of the vacant “spec” building at Ceres industrial park brought candid responses.
“It is in terrible shape,” Arnold said of the county-owned Veto Street library. “And we’ve visited the library. They requested $2,000 for new carpet and paint, and when we got to looking, we found out they had just a little bit under $800,000 in reserves.
“So, our message was, go ahead and do the work, but it needs to come out the library funds.”
The vacant building at Ceres built in 1995 to attract an industrial tenant “is just sitting there,” Arnold said, adding its construction “was probably a bad move.”
A final point was planned work to pave parts of Henry Lake Road north of Ceres. The roadbed itself has been moved to avoid two water lines and speed up when supervisors can let a contract for the project. Property owners on the road can expect overtures from the county about purchasing rights of way in the coming months, Arnold said.