By Henry Greenbaum
The Londonderry, Town Council held a hearing on Mon. Nov. 22 for the resolution that is relative to the Elderly Exemption Policy.
Steve Hamilton, the President of Whitney Consulting Group, LLC and town assessor presented the resolution to the Town Council. “When a re-evaluation occurs, if there is no adjustment to the amount of the benefit for the exemption then there may be a relative decline in the effectiveness of that exemption,” said Hamilton. “This is an attempt to make an adjustment to the benefit amount so that there is, as it were, the ‘same bang for the buck’ for people who qualify for the exemption.”
Hamilton went on to explain what the resolution is, “It is the recommendation of the Assessing Department that the benefit amount increase for persons aged 65-74 years to $144,000 exemption of value from their property taxes. For a person 75 years of age up to 79 years of age, the benefit amount would increase to $180,000 and for a person of age 80 years or older the benefit amount would be an exemption of $240,000.”
The resolution that Hamilton proposed is to increase the amount of money certain elderly age groups can be exempt from paying on their property taxes. He noted that the increase was about 16% for each category. He came to this conclusion by analyzing the properties that were receiving these exemptions and how much their values have increased over the years. Hamilton also noted that they can’t make it work the way it was before for everybody because everyone’s property value is different.
Hamilton was asked about the income requirements for the exemption, and he explained that they would be relatively the same. “It is a little bit risky at the moment to change too much of the income requirement because of income from all sources that right now does include payments from the Federal Government for Covid-19 relief,” Hamilton said.
The income requirements are recommended to stay the same under this new resolution due to Covid-19 relief. Hamilton would like to revisit potentially adjusting that next year when there is less aid from the Federal Government.
Town Councilor Deb Paul asked Hamilton about why the minimum time to be living in Londonderry and to receive these benefits is three years. Hamilton explained that that requirement is a state-wide policy. Someone does not have to be living in Londonderry specifically for three years to gain the exemption. So long as they proved that their main residence for at least three years is within the state of New Hampshire, then they qualify for the exemption.
Paul also asked him about assessing a resident’s land for the exemption. Hamilton said, “When we consider the assets that a person owns, we don’t consider the value of their residence to be an asset… If you had, for example, a home on 100 Acres of land that was developable, you would have more than just the value of the asset. The law requires us to consider the value of your primary residence and Two Acres around it being your primary residence. The excess land is maybe an asset we would have to consider separately.”
The Town Council agreed to approve the new resolution relative to the Elderly Exemption Policy unanimously.
Hamilton also presented resolution relative to the Disabled Person’s Exemption Policy to the Town Council. He proposed that the amount of money for people in the lowest age group should be brought up to the same amount as the lowest age group that qualifies for the elderly tax exemption. The Town Council approved the resolution unanimously.