Franklin County Auditor Clarence Mingo discussed two tax-reduction opportunities for homeowners at the Jan. 23 Hilliard City Council meeting.

Franklin County Auditor Clarence Mingo discussed two tax-reduction opportunities for homeowners at the Jan. 23 Hilliard City Council meeting.

"We're really pushing these exemptions this year," Mingo said, "in particular in light of this recession."

One is the homestead exemption, which is available to senior citizens age 65 and older and permanently and totally disabled homeowners. It was originally introduced in 1972 and expanded in 2007.

"If your home has a value of $100,000, my staff and I will value it at $75,000, and the senior will pay tax on $75,000 versus $100,000" Mingo said. The average savings is $450 to $1,000 per year, he said, which can be used to pay utility bills or prescriptions.

"Last year, our senior citizens here in Franklin County saved about $27 million real dollars in non-payment of taxes because of that exemption," Mingo said. "You can be black or white, rich or poor, Republican or Democrat, and still qualify for the homestead exemption."

The application period is from the first Monday in January through the first Monday in June. Those who receive the homestead exemption do not have to reapply every year.

The other program is the 2.5 percent reduction, Mingo said.

"Every homeowner in Franklin County, if it is your primary place of residence, is entitled to 2.5 percent off their tax bill," Mingo said.

"This is an entitlement, but it is not automatic," he said. "This is something you have to make an application for. We find every year that there are thousands of your constituents and our county residents who don't know about this particular reduction."

If you move but remain in the county, you will need to re-apply, he said.

Mingo said those who are late in applying can still get a refund check "for the savings they would have received last year had they applied on time. It will be the same thing for the homestead exemption."

For applications, visit franklincountyauditor.com, call (614) 525-3240 or visit the office at 373 S. High St., 21st Floor.

Mingo said that "for the first time since Roosevelt was president," property values have declined in the county. For those who feel their property value is too high, however, there is still one chance left to get it lowered: the board of revision.

"The average homeowner can do this," Mingo said. "Most do this without counsel."

To appeal to the board of revision, one has to fill out an application that must be received by April 2.

"According to last year's statistics, about 70 percent of the homeowners who took time to go through that process actually succeeded," Mingo said. "That is to say, they paid less in property tax and we also refunded or credited any overpayment of the property tax."

He said the board of revision can be reached at (614) 525-4663.