Property tax ordinance geared toward 55+ community

PALM DESERT, Calif. - The Riverside County Board of Supervisors voted to allow qualifying homeowners to transfer their property tax assessments from a residence in another county to a home in Riverside County as part of an effort to attract new residents with money to spend on local goods and services.

The supervisors approved an ordinance that codifies provisions of Proposition 90, approved by California voters in 1988, and Proposition 110, approved by voters two years later.

Prop. 90 permits homeowners 55 years and over to retain, when they move, the `factored base year' assessment that determines how much they pay annually in property taxes. According to the law, a property owner can relocate to another county, purchase a house there and pay the same amount of annual property taxes he or she was paying on the home sold in the original county, despite upgrading. "It saves them thousands of dollars in taxes," said California Desert Association of Realtors president Wendy Formica.  "It opens up a whole new arena for them to be able to purchase."

Prop. 110 affords the same treatment, only it applies exclusively to disabled homeowners.  To be qualified, homeowners must fit certain criteria:

-Be at least 55 years old
-The new home must cost the same or less than the selling price of the old home
-You must make Riverside County your primary residence

Only eight counties in the state have ordinances that provide for inter-county transfers of property taxes. Riverside County had such an ordinance in place until 1995, when it was rescinded because of concerns over property tax losses.  

"There's going to be a little less money for the county," said Supervisor John Benoit.  "School districts and others that are on your property tax bill, will get a tiny bit less."

Supervisors Benoit and Kevin Jeffries, who jointly proposed re-implementing propositions 90 and 110, said having the provisions in place would attract more retirees to the region. The supervisors touted the potential collateral economic benefits outweighing the cuts.  "It's insignificant to the new business and new home sales," said Marilynn Rebhun, a realtor.  "I think it will really be robust."

During a public hearing on the ordinance last month, Inland Valley Association of Realtors' President Doug Shepherd cited studies showing that Prop. 90 could generate an additional $127 million in annual economic benefits and lead to 676 new jobs a year.

He said retailers and contractors would realize gains as new residents pay for home improvements, furnishings and other necessities.

The new ordinance takes effect on Sept. 19.

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