Unity plans to extend property tax rebate to all seniors

Unity supervisors are considering expanding the township’s senior property tax rebate program to include all residents age 65 or older.

Last week, supervisors agreed to have attorney Gary Falatovich investigate the possibility suggested by board chairman Mike O’Barto.

The township launched a property tax rebate program for seniors in 2012, but an applicant’s household must fall within the lower income limits set by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“All I want to do is actually improve it, with a reimbursement program for everyone 65 and over,” O’Barto said. “I think it would be great for older people.”

While the township’s property tax is just $2.2 million, O’Barto suggested that easing that burden could make a difference for someone on a fixed income who struggles to pay other taxes and current invoices.

“There are a lot of older people who are being forced out of their homes,” he said. “It would be worth it if we could help a person stay in their home.”

O’Barto said 314 Unity seniors were eligible for income-contingent reimbursement in 2021, up from 341 in 2018.

He pointed out that just under 22% of the township’s residents are 65 or older, according to 2020 census figures. That would equate to about 4,600 of the township’s population of about 21,600.

“Nearly 80% of the residents of Unity Township are under the age of 65,” O’Barto said. “It tells me that there are still a lot of young people moving into the township.”

The census also indicates that 81% of housing in the township is owner-occupied.

Certain limitations on the Unity tax refund would remain. It does not apply to a separate 2 mill tax imposed on properties to provide support to the township’s volunteer firefighters.

Seniors must apply by July 31 to receive a discount for a given year. They must also have owned and resided on property in the township for five consecutive years to apply.

“You can’t just move from another municipality into Unity Township and get a tax exemption,” O’Barto said.

Jeff Himler is an editor at Tribune-Review. You can contact Jeff at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter .

Penny D. Jackson