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For nearly 20 years, seniors 70 and older, have been exempt fromcity property taxes in Centerville.

Come November 5th, Election Day, that could change.

A ballot question asks voters if the exemption should be on the first $50,000 of the home's assessed value for seniors.

69-year-old John Cox, a Centerville homeowner, looks forward to his 70th birthday.

He said, "I've had three heart attacks, open heart surgery."

Cox wants to celebrate life and a reduction in his tax bill.

When he bought in Centerville six years ago, he did so in part because of the city property tax exemption for homeowners 70 and older.

Cox said, "It's part of their livelihood. Part of their old age pension plan, you might could say."

City Administator Patrick Eidson says when the exemption started in 1994, the city was smaller and required fewer public services.

Eidson said, "The fact is over a 20-year period, the city lost $2.5 million in tax revenue."

He says reducing the exemption would help recoup costs, generating about $130,000 a year for the city. Eidson said the money could be used to expand fire and police services.

For seniors 70 and up with a $100,000 home, an exemption on the first $50,000 of assessed value would equal about $239 a year in city property taxes. That's about $20 a month.

Eidson says younger Centerville homeowners pay it and often ask why the older folks don't.

He said, "That 70 and older group is still paying county taxes, still paying school taxes. Why should we be subject to paying all those taxes, and they're getting a free ride from the city?"

Cox understands the sentiment, but says it comes down to the sign at the city's entrance. It calls Centerville a "City of Ethics."

He said, "That really convinced me and my wife we were making the right decision in moving to this area."

Cox says the ethical choice is to let the exemption stand at 100-percent; the way it was on the day he bought his home.

Eidson says there are 328 senior households taking advantage of the exemption in a city of 7,500 people.

In 2007, a question on the ballot to repeal the senior exemption entirely failed.

Voters can make their choice on this issue November 5th.

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