October 15, 2008

Few applicants for tax rebates

As published in the Erin Advocate

I saw an ad the other day about a Wellington County program that provides partial rebates of property tax increases for low-income seniors and disabled persons, and decided to get more information. It turns out that very few people are applying.

The program provides a rebate of any increase over $150 on the total tax bill for property owners 65 and older who receive the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS), or disabled persons who receive benefits under the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP).

People need to re-apply each year to the Town office, and the deadline for this year is November 1.

Only 21 applications came in from the whole county for 2007, down from 47 in 2005, said Emma Reddish, Property Tax Analyst at Wellington County. The average rebate was $300. The program can be of particular value if taxes rise due to property reassessment.

“People should not pre-determine whether they qualify based on tax bill comparison – if they receive GIS or ODSP they should apply or call,” she said. “Applications are extremely easy to fill out.”

All rebated amounts are shared between the local municipality, Wellington County and the Boards of Education. The rebate is only made once all the property tax for the year has been paid. The program used to apply to tax increases over $300, but in the spring of 2006, County Council lowered the threshold to $150.

Low-income disabled persons who do not receive the ODSP may still qualify for tax relief, since eligibility may be determined on a case-by-case basis in consultation with the County Social Services Department.

There is more information at the bottom of your tax bill. You can get an application at the Town of Erin office, the County Administration Centre, or on-line at www.wellington.ca. Call Emma at 519-837-2600, ext. 2940, or email: emmar@wellington.ca.

• • •

I’ve never been fond of idle chit-chat, especially in written form, so the idea of launching a blog had never really crossed my mind.

Recently, however, a number of people have asked if the Erin Insight column is available on-line. The opportunity to publish my writing at absolutely no cost, to an unlimited number of readers, was certainly worth investigation.

It was so simple; I set it up during a lunch break. Now, you can aim your trusty web browser at www.erininsight.blogspot.com, and read, well, what you are reading right now.

That might seem redundant, but it opens up some interesting possibilities. For example, my Mom and Dad can now read the column, as can anyone else who does not get The Erin Advocate. Columns will be posted on the blog in the week after they appear in the newspaper.

When the site appears on your screen, you will see the most recent column, followed by previous ones. You can scroll through them, call up various ones by title, or click at the side to see related columns according to topic.

Over time, I hope it will create a portrait of Erin from many different angles.

A blog (short for web log) is like a diary or scrapbook. You can set a simple one up for free with Google or other companies, or pay a small fee to get a fancier site.

The author has control over who can read it; some blogs are restricted to family and friends, but mine open to everyone.
Some blogs have many authors posting submissions, so they become complex, wide-open forums for debate. I plan to keep mine simple. I will be the only one posting articles, normally the same as what appears in the newspaper, but sometimes with extra material that would not fit onto Page 7.

Many blogs allow readers to attach their own comments to a story, for all to read. I am not providing that option, at least for now, mainly because I do not have time to screen and moderate the process.

If anyone wants to contact me with alternate views, additional information or ideas for future columns, send an email to: erininsight@gmail.com. This will be private correspondence; I will not publish your letter, quote from it or use your name, unless you request that I do so.

To comment publicly, send a Letter to the Editor, to the address on Page 6, or via email: editorial@erinadvocate.com.