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Tax dodging made easy for seniors

"Land rich, cash poor.It's the old-timer's lament on Bainbridge Island. You bought a home here decades ago for $30,000, and today it's worth 10 times that. You're retired and living on a fixed income, but you don't want to sell out and move.You're a Bainbridge Islander, by gum, and you want to stay that way.The biggest challenge, though, is coming up with the cash when the assessor's annual Valentine's card - the property tax bill - shows up in the mail.In the interest of keeping local old-timers in the community, we thought we'd remind readers that seniors and disabled homeowners in the more modest income brackets can get significant relief from local property taxes.Under an exemption program administered by Kitsap County, homeowners age 61 and over, and living on $30,000 per year or less, can get out from local excess levies - that is, those approved by the voters. On Bainbridge, that includes the operation and construction levies that support both the school and park districts, which this year make up 40 percent of the total bill. Also, the exemptions are three-tiered; those in the lowest income brackets can also get relief from up to 60 percent of their regular property tax bill as well. By our math, a senior living on $30,000 per year in a $300,000 home would see their property tax bill cut this year from $4,000.08 to $2,437.11 - no small savings. Too, you can get out from under the city's $48 storm drain fee (which also shows up on your tax bill).Several other property tax relief and deferral programs are out there. The catch - you have to apply this year to get a break next year. Information on the property tax relief program is available by calling 842-2061, or online at www.wa.gov/kitsap/departments/assessor.This weekWhile we're here, we also thought we'd call attention to several events coming up in the next week.Today: Design a park. Citizens will meet this afternoon (Saturday) to discuss the design and improvements for the latest jewel in the island park system, the 20-acre Blakely Harbor Park. In this, the first of three workshops, you can tell planners where you want the picnic tables, the kayak launch, or (editor's choice) to just leave it more or less as is.But what about the concrete building? You decide - the meeting 2-5 p.m. Feb. 24 at the Strawberry Hill Center. Thursday: Design an intersection. Worked up over the notion of a roundabout at High School Road and Madison Avenue? Or just worked up about those who are worked up?The public works department will hold an informational meeting on intersection alternatives - roundabout or signal - and the state of contemporary roundabout design, 7-9 p.m. March 1 in the city hall council chambers. Information: 842-2016. "

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