Ohio's new state budget calls for means testing seniors with regard to the Homestead exemption. Currently, all seniors qualify for discounts on their water, sewer and trash bills.
But in passing the 2014-2015 budget, lawmakers would means test the discount disqualifying seniors who make $30,000 a year or more.
In Toledo, that could mean 200 seniors would lose that reduction, running about $25/month.
Currently, the city offers discounts to seniors 65 and older a discount on trash pick up. They pay $5 instead of $8.50 a month.
They also get 25-percent reduction in their water and sewer bill.
But by means testing Homestead discounts, the state budget could cost some seniors all that savings.
So Toledo City Councilman Joe McNamara (D), who's also running for mayor is proposing a plan that would help those means-tested seniors keep the discount.
As it stands now, the Lucas County Auditor certifies seniors to qualify for the discount. But the Auditor would have to follow the new state law and potentially de-certify hundreds of seniors who currently get the benefit. So McNamara is proposing a change.
The candidate told 13abc's Bill Hormann the city's Public Utilities department would now serve as a secondary certifier saying, "If the Auditor certifies someone than that counts for our discount program or the director of public utilities can certify someone as being 65 or older."
In other words, the city would now qualify all the seniors the Auditor would have to dump from the program. That could save those seniors $300 a year, on average.
But the idea has critics.
Fellow councilman, and mayoral candidate, D. Michael Collins (I) says, McNamara's plan forces taxpayers to pay someone in the Public Utilities department to do that work.
Collins suggests simply letting the Auditor collect applications for all seniors then passing the information to the city. He reasons, "We don't have to change anything, nor is it going to cost us more money."
McNamara says the cost to the city is minimal but seniors should not lose their discounts. He says, "This can be fixed now. I'm offering a solution now. I'm fighting for seniors, right now."
County Auditor Anita Lopez, who's also running for mayor of Toledo, tells us she would support council passing legislation prohibiting a means test to receive the city's Homestead discount.
But Lopez says her office already collects information from seniors and passes that along to Toledo and she believes McNamara's proposal is unnecessary.