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Lantana passes tax exemption for elderly, disabled

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Senior citizens and people with disabilities will have a little extra change in their pockets courtesy of a property tax break granted by Lantana’s Fresh Water Supply District #6 board of directors.

Board members voted at their February meeting to grant a $3,000 tax exemption for disabled residents and those 65 and older.

Under the exemption, the average homeowner that qualifies will save about $30 a year based on a home value of $300,000.

During the board’s discussion, District Controller Richard Harned recommended that the district hold off granting any exemptions until the district is built out and the remainder of the municipal bonds are sold to ensure that tax revenue adequately covers future bond payments.

Another concern Harned expressed was the lack of a commercial tax base in the district.

“We are a very young district, and we are not quite there yet,” said Harned.

In the end, after a motion was made by Bob Baird and seconded by Jim VanVickle, the board voted 4 to 1 in favor of the tax break.

The one dissenting vote came from seven-year board member Donna Robichaux.

“I would be for it when the time is right and the amount is enough to make a difference,” said Robichaux.

“The issue is that the elevated tax rate we already have in Lantana does not cover basic city services our neighboring communities provide. We should be confronting more difficult and long term issues such as dedicated police for the community.”

The exemption applies only to the Lantana neighborhoods that lie in Fresh Water District #6.  There are an estimated 250 homeowners that would qualify.

The Fresh Water District #7 board voted not to grant any tax exemptions.

“District 7 has a lot more development to do and more variables to deal with,” said Harned.

David Ware, FWSD #7 board president, said that creating exemptions for certain groups, “adds complexity in the long term and builds a lack of consensus down the road.”

“Our property tax is used to pay for infrastructure and just because of someone’s age I don’t necessarily think that they use the resources any less,” said Ware. “Residents knew what the tax rate was when they moved in.”

All Lantana residents 65 and older and/or disabled qualify for a homestead exemption on their county and school taxes.

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