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Christmas came a bit early for some Taylor Countians. Taylor County PVA Chad Shively recently saved Taylor County taxpayers about $50,000.
It all started with Shively wanting to have all those eligible to sign up for a homestead tax exemption.
Those age 65 and older can apply for the exemption, which eliminates part of the assessed property value on which they will pay taxes. Currently, those who qualify don't have to pay taxes on $36,000 of their assessed property value.
For example, if a person has a home assessed at being worth $100,000, $36,000 is subtracted from that before the homeowner's property tax bill is calculated.
Most of those who receive the exemption save between $300 and $390 a year.
To receive the homestead exemption, a person must own and occupy the property considered. The home must be listed as the person's primary residence. Only one exemption is allowed per person, as a person can only have one primary residence.
After a person turns 65, they only have to apply for the exemption once. It will be given each year forward.
Since Shively took office in May, he said, he has been thinking of ways to make sure all those who are eligible for the homestead exemption receive it.
Shively said he set up a booth at Kroger on the first Wednesday of each month and met with many residents. He also discussed the exemption on local radio stations.
But he said he knew he still likely wasn't reaching everyone. In early October, Shively came up with a plan to make that happen.
"It's been a lot of man hours," he said. "We are as close to 100 percent as we can be. I don't feel that we're 100 percent."
Shively got a list of birthdates of all those who live in Taylor County. He started with a list of nearly 18,000 names on 444 sheets of paper.
Shively highlighted those who, based on their age, would be eligible for the exemption. He then took the highlighted names and cross-referenced them with the county's tax roll. Not all of those whose names were highlighted own property, Shively said, and some already receive the exemption.
And since state law allows PVA offices to refund up to two years of tax payments, Shively also searched for those who were eligible for the exemption one and two years ago but hadn't signed up.
Shively sent letters to the 99 people who were eligible but not receiving the exemption. Since sending the letters, Shively said, many have come to his office to complete the required homestead paperwork.
Others who didn't respond, Shively said, received a personal visit from him.
And now, 97 of the 99 people now receive the homestead exemption. Shively said he hasn't been able to reach the last two property owners.
Before Shively began his effort, there were 2,844 people receiving the homestead exemption in Taylor County.
The 97 people who now receive the homestead exemption have saved about $47,500, Shively said.
"When the dust all settles, the results will be somewhere in the neighborhood of $32,000 being refunded to eligible Taylor County taxpayers for overpayment and another $15,500 coming off of the current 2013 tax bills," he said.
Shively said the majority of those he talked to were pleased with the news that they were due a refund for paying more taxes than they had to - and would be receiving the homestead exemption from now on.
"I mean, little ladies, they're not afraid to give you a hug," he said.
Only a few were hesitant, he said, and had some questions about what he was doing.
Shively said those who will soon receive refunds for their overpayment will get from $325 to $425 for each year they were eligible for the exemption, depending on where they live.
Those who own property in the city limits pay county and city property taxes, along with either city or county school taxes.
Residents who own property outside the city limits pay county property taxes and either city or county school taxes.
Shively said those who are now signed up for the homestead tax exemption will receive refunds from the county, city if living in the city limits and whatever school district they live in.
Though his effort was lots of work, Shively said he is pleased that nearly all those in Taylor County who are eligible for the exemption now receive it.
"I don't know why people wouldn't want others to have this exemption," he said. "I would want somebody to tell me about it."
And for those who will turn 65 in 2014, Shively said, they will soon receive a birthday card from him with a reminder that they are now eligible for the homestead exemption.
Those who have received disability benefits for a full calendar year are also eligible for the homestead exemption. Shively said there isn't a list of those receiving disability payments, however, so he has no way of tracking those residents.
For more information about the homestead exemption, call Shively at 465-5811 or visit his office at the Taylor County Courthouse.
Representing His District
In addition to tracking down those eligible for the homestead exemption, Shively was also recently elected legislative contact for the third district of PVAs in the state. He is the first PVA legislative contact from Taylor County.
The state is divided into seven districts and a PVA representative is elected from each. That PVA is charged with representing the counties in his or her district and staying in contact with legislators about laws pertaining to PVA matters.
Shively's district is made up of 18 counties, including Taylor, Adair, Green, LaRue, Marion, Russell, Casey, Laurel, Lincoln, Wayne, Whitley, Metcalfe, Monroe, McCreary, Pulaski, Rockcastle, Clinton and Cumberland.
As of this weekend, The Taylor County PVA office will be open for business each Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon.
After the change, Shively said his hours now mimic those of Taylor County Clerk Mark Carney's office.
He said a lot of those who have business at Carney's office might also have business at his. And, to help them, he said, he wants to be open on Saturdays.
The courthouse is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each Monday through Friday.