Superintendant Explains Senior Parcel Tax Exemption Snafu

February 11, 2010
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Below is the text of a letter sent by John Sugiyama, superintendant of the Emery Unified School District, to Shirley Enomoto, author of the previous post regarding the parcel tax exemption for seniors.

Hello Shirley!

Thank you for your patience in receiving this reply to your inquiry regarding the notification of Emeryville parcel owners regarding the senior exemption provision of Measure A. We have researched this issue extensively and finally have information that we believe is accurate. Hopefully this information will be helpful to you.

1. Contrary to what we understood previously, the letter notifying parcel owners of the senior exemption is only mailed to those seniors who have previously applied for the exemption. The letter is not mailed to all parcel owners in Emeryville nor does any law or statute require such a mailing since the notice of senior exemption was clearly stated in the ballot language for Measure A.

2. While the ballot language states, “Any one application from a qualified applicant will provide an exemption for the parcel for the remaining term of the assessment . . . “ the language continues on to state, “ . . . so long as such applicant continues to use the parcel as his or her principal residence.” Therefore, the only way to determine whether an applicant continues to use the parcel as his or her principal residence is for the applicant to re-submit the exemption form on an annual basis. The County Tax Assessor only knows if the parcel has changed hands, not, for example, if a parcel owner moves out and continues to rent the property and claim the exemption (for which they are no longer eligible).

However, given that there are seniors such as yourself who were not 65 at the time the parcel tax was passed and that they may not recall that they are eligible for the senior exemption when they turn 65 years old prior to July 1 of an assessment year, we have directed NBS to mail the notice of the senior exemption letter to every residential parcel owner on record with the County Tax Assessor this April as a reminder for anyone who is 65 years of age prior to July 1, 2010. In this way, we can be sure that every eligible senior will receive notification of the exemption provision in Measure A. Of course, those seniors who have previously filed the exemption request will receive the same letter in early April.

The requirement that the senior exemption be renewed annually will remain for the reasons stated above. For your information, our district along with many other school districts and city governments use NBS to manage their parcel taxes. We have been very pleased with their services and have no reasons to terminate our contract with them. If you are interested in learning more about NBS, their website is www.nbsgov.com.

I want to thank you for bringing the issue of notification of parcel owners about the senior exemption to our attention. As a result of your inquiry, we can now take action to be sure that all residential parcel owners are informed annually of their ability to apply for a senior exemption.

We expect that the letter will be mailed out by NBS sometime in early April. Please e-mail me to let me know that you have received the letter.

Thanks again,

John Sugiyama

One Response to Superintendant Explains Senior Parcel Tax Exemption Snafu

  1. Anonymous on February 13, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    He's saying there's no way to implement this other than by forcing seniors to reapply every year (and stick on all kinds of impediments to the yearly application). I think this shows either a lack of creative thinking or just laziness (that benefits the District finacially as an extra incentive to not fix it).

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