The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 Weatherization Assistance Program will make about $100 million available to eligible Tennesseans to help reduce energy costs by providing assistance to weatherize their homes. It will allow an average investment of up to $6,500 per home in energy efficiency upgrades and will be available for families making up to 200% of the federal poverty level, which is $44,100 a year for a family of four, or $29,140 for a family of two. The improvements are estimated to reduce home heating bills by an average of 32%.
In Tennessee, the Weatherization Assistance Program is available in all 95 counties and is administered by local agencies. Eligible households with elderly, disabled, or young children are given priority for service.
If you have questions regarding eligibility or applying for the program, contact one of the agencies below.
For Shelby County residents:
Shelby County Community Services Agency
Memphis, Tennessee 38103-0513
Brenda Murphy, Coordinator
Fax: (901) 545-3592
For Dyer County residents:
Northwest Tennessee Economic Development Council
231 S. Wilson Street
Dresden, Tennessee 38225
Don Ridgeway, Executive Director
Kathey Cooper, Coordinator
For Tipton and Lauderdale County residents:
Delta Human Resources Agency
P. O. Box 634 - 915 Highway 51 South
Covington, Tennessee 38019
Gloria Williams, Coordinator
Fax: (901) 476-5258
By STATE SEN. MARK NORRIS • Tennessean.com
May 15, 2008
In a poignant moment in his State of the State address last January, Gov. Phil Bredesen acknowledged his mother's desire to stay in her home:
"I've seen how much you want to be in your own home; I know how difficult that would have been … without some help. … If you want to stay in your home … this is the year we're going to start making it easier."
Actually, the General Assembly began the long process of making it easier for senior citizens on fixed incomes to stay in their homes three years ago. Unfortunately, the majority of local municipal and county governments in Tennessee have yet to do so.
I proudly sponsored the referendum to amend our state constitution permitting local governments to freeze property taxes in 2005. Nearly 1.4 million Tennesseans ratified the constitutional amendment in 2006. The following year, I sponsored the enabling legislation, the Property Tax Freeze Act of 2007, for cities and counties to put the freeze in place. Seniors with combined incomes below the median income of their county of residence qualify, but it is all to no avail if their local elected officials fail to adopt the program.
The recent state Senate passage of the The Long-Term Care Community Choices Act of 2008 is the latest chapter in "the graying of Tennessee." As we age, it is increasingly important our homes not be taken for taxes. This is especially true when it comes to health care and our efforts to provide more cost-effective and better care in that home as opposed to a nursing home.
Local officials should act
Despite the recognition that home- and community-based care are preferable to institutionalized care, and notwithstanding the fact that nearly 83 percent of Tennesseans voted to make local property tax freezes for senior citizens a reality, city and county governments are moving very slowly to embrace the need. As of this writing, only 14 local governments across the state have done so.
Some local governments' excuse for not adopting tax relief is a concern that doing so for seniors shifts tax burdens to younger Tennesseans. But consider the costs if they don't.
For every dollar that could be spent serving the elderly and people with disabilities at home, Tennessee currently spends $149 on nursing-home care alone. The annual cost of nursing-home care exceeds $58,000 per person compared to $36,000 for home and community-based care. Nursing-home care now costs Tennesseans nearly $1 billion per year. With the population of senior citizens projected to double to more than 1.5 million in the next 15 years, that is the cost that should concern local governments the most.
Adopting the property tax freeze for seniors should be a priority for local governments. It is an integral part of our effort to preserve the home, improve the quality of life for an increasing number of Tennesseans, and respect the dignity of those who have earned it.
by Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris
The Property Tax Freeze Act of 2007 is now law, and it is time to urge your local elected officials to adopt it.
For the first time in Tennessee history, 65 year olds earning less than the County’s median income for 65 year olds and older can qualify to have their city and county property taxes frozen against future increases – whether from reappraisals, reassessments or outright tax hikes.
There’s just one thing. Your city council or county commission must vote to participate in the program first. Property tax relief is available beginning January 2008 for those who act now.
For over six years, I lead the effort to amend our State Constitution to make it easier for senior citizens to keep their homes in later life. I believe seniors on fixed incomes should not have to sacrifice buying prescription medications just to pay increased taxes, nor should they otherwise worry over how to make ends meet without selling their home.
1.3 million Tennesseans supported my efforts last November when 83% voted in favor of Amendment 2. This year, with a clear mandate, we codified the procedure making the Property Tax Freeze Act reality.
Regulations governing the tax freeze will be adopted by the State Board of Equalization on September 17, 2007. But the Attorney General recently ruled that counties or municipalities may adopt the tax freeze even before the regulations are promulgated. Davidson County has already done so.
That’s why I am writing now; to encourage you to urge your city council members (if you live in Memphis), aldermen if you live elsewhere, and county commissioners to participate. Now is the time to ask candidates for election to city boards in upcoming elections whether they will vote to participate in the property tax freeze for seniors.
Some younger elected officials in Memphis don’t seem to care about tax relief for seniors. One was recently reported to have said, “I’m a long way from 65, but I have two kids to raise.” He worries what additional cost he might bear. But a recent study by the AARP Public Policy Institute confirms that senior citizens in Tennessee bear the brunt of the property tax burden.
With increasing emphasis on home and community based care, it only makes sense to do everything we can to respect the dignity and independence of our seniors by helping them keep their homes.
The proposed Rules governing eligibility and enforcement under the Property Tax Freeze Act will be considered on September 17, 2007:
Click here to read the Notice of Rulemaking Hearing Tennessee State Board of Equalization
Attorney General's opinion March 23, 2007 PDF
Attorney General's opinion July 17, 2007 PDF Introduction to the Property Tax Freeze
June 18, 2007
In November 2006, Tennessee voters approved an amendment to the Tennessee Constitution authorizing a property tax freeze for elderly homeowners. This amendment to Article II, Section 28 of the Tennessee Constitution gives the General Assembly the authority by general law to authorize counties and municipalities to implement a local option property tax freeze for taxpayers 65 years of age or older.
In its 2007 session, the 105th General Assembly enacted the Property Tax Freeze Act (Senate Bill 2 / House Bill 1033) which establishes the tax freeze. Under the Act, the legislative body of any county or municipality is authorized to adopt the property tax freeze program. The Act becomes effective on July 1, 2007.Provisions
Homeowners qualifying for the program will have the property taxes on their principal residence frozen at a base tax amount, which is the amount of taxes owed in the year they first qualify for the program. Thereafter, as long as the owner continues to qualify for the program, the amount of property taxes owed for that property will not change, even if there is a property tax rate increase.
In order to qualify, the homeowner must file an application annually and must:
- Own their principal place of residence in a participating county and/or cityBe 65 years of age or older by the end of the year in which the application is filed
- Have an income from all sources that does not exceed the county income limit established for that tax year
In counties and municipalities participating in the Tax Freeze Program, application may be made to the county Trustee or city collecting official.
The state Comptroller’s Office will calculate the income limit for each county annually using a formula outlined in state law.
Situations where the base tax amount would change for a homeowner are:
- When improvements are made to the property resulting in an increase in its value
- When the homeowner sells their home and purchases another residence
The tax freeze is available only on the principal place of residence of the qualifying homeowner located in a participating county or city. There are limitations on the amount of land that can be included for residential purposes in the program, and the program does not apply to portions of the property not used for residential purposes.
Tax Freeze Income Limits 2010 PDF Tax Freeze Income Limits 2010 Map PDF