'These families still carry on, they still have to manage through life, and property tax relief is one form of comfort that the government can provide.'
(TNS) - Outgoing Franklin County, Ohio, aAuditor Clarence Mingo is renewing his call for a change in state law to provide a property tax break to the spouses of first responders who die in the line of duty.
"These families still carry on, they still have to manage through life, and property tax relief is one form of comfort that the government can provide," Mingo said Wednesday, the same day a public memorial service was held for the three-person crew killed in a medical helicopter crash in southeastern Ohio. "Survival Flight 14 is a real tragedy. However, this bill should gain momentum in light of this loss and also remind the public of the need to care for the surviving families of our first responders."
Mingo, whose term as county auditor ends in March, has advocated over the past two years for passage of legislation granting an expanded homestead exemption to the spouses of officers, firefighters and other emergency responders who die in the line of duty or from a related injury or illness.
Under existing law, residents who are 65 years or older or are permanently or totally disabled, plus those at least 59 years old and the surviving spouse of someone in one of those categories, are eligible for property tax exemptions on up to $25,000 of their home's value. Several years ago, another category was added, providing a $50,000 homestead exemption for eligible disabled veterans.
Legislation considered last session, which would have expanded the $50,000 credit to cover spouses of fallen officers, firefighters and other emergency responders, passed the Ohio House but stalled in the Ohio Senate. Comparable law changes are expected to be proposed during the new legislative session.
The standard homestead exemption reduces property taxes for eligible residents by an average of about $495 per year, according to a fiscal analysis by the state's Legislative Service Commission. The expanded exemption would save spouses of deceased first responders about $990 per year.
The commission estimated that about 200 spouses would qualify.
"This would be a down payment on our appreciation for their sacrifice on our behalf," Mingo said.
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