Senior tax rebates might be reinstated

By on January 15, 2010

New restrictions would apply
by Martha Quetsch
ELBURN—The village of Elburn will consider reinstatement of its utility tax rebate program for seniors this year, but with additional restrictions.

The Elburn Finance Committee on Monday recommended that the village offer the program again this year, with the eligibility age for recipients raised from 61 to 65, and only households with incomes of $55,000 or less allowed to receive the rebates.

“We wanted to make it consistent with the state’s (eligibility requirements for the) freeze on seniors’ real estate taxes,” committee member Bill Grabarek said.

The Finance Committee also recommended that the senior rebates be capped at $150 annually per senior household.

The Finance Committee’s recommendation for the rebate program changes, drafted in a village ordinance, will go to the Village Board for its consideration.

The Village Board suspended the rebates for 2009 in September because of some residents’ abuse of the program, which reimbursed residents 61 and older for 75 percent of municipal taxes on their gas, electric and phone bills.

Two months later, after some residents complained about the program being suspended, the Finance Committee recommended that it be reinstated.

In addition to the age and income restriction, and the annual reimbursement cap, the committee also recommended allowing the rebates only for gas and electric bill taxes, not for telephone service.

When village officials suspended the rebates last fall, they said some individuals had abused the program in the past by requesting refunds for several different phones, and that people who could afford utility taxes obtained rebates.

With the stricter requirements, the village expects that the program will be less costly for the village. Trustee Grabarek estimated that the rebate program previously cost the village $11,000.