COLONA — State Rep. Tony McCombie, R-Savanna, was honored Monday by a group of veterans on behalf of her late Vietnam-veteran father, as well as thanked for a bill she introduced to help aging veterans and other seniors.
The presentation took place as Rep. McCombie was holding "traveling office hours" with residents at Colona City Hall.
The local veterans presented her with a T-shirt commemorating the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, as well as a Vietnam service coin. Rep. McCombie's father, John "Jack" Reagan, served two tours of duty in Vietnam, beginning in 1967. He died in 2012.
Rep. McCombie was also thanked for her bill, introduced last month, that would raise the income limit for eligibility for the Senior Citizens Assessment Freeze Homestead Exemption, which offers seniors a reduced property-tax bill.
If Rep. McCombie's bill is passed, the income limit for eligibility for the exemption will be raised from $55,000 to $60,000 for taxable years 2017 to 2020, and to $65,000 for taxable years 2021 and beyond. That would broaden the number of eligible seniors. Veterans in attendance said the change would restore the exemption to many who have lost it in recent years.
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The bill, currently in the House's Property Tax Subcommittee, has 22 co-sponsors, including Rep. Mike Halpin, D-Rock Island, and Rep. Dan Swanson, R-Alpha.
State Sen. Neil Anderson, R-Rock Island, has pre-filed the bill in the Senate, Rep. McCombie said.
"We're thanking her for helping the veterans, and the seniors, and we're also honoring her father for being a Vietnam veteran," said Don DeLoose, 72, Silvis, an Army veteran.
"We just want to thank her. She's been so responsive to the veterans, and to the seniors," he added. "And there's a whole ton of us seniors. And you want to live a little bit longer, but you got to have money to live. And if you have to start paying $5,000 in (property) taxes instead of $3,000, you're not going to like it very much."
"It's just another little thing," Rep. McCombie said, after thanking the veterans. "I can't necessarily pass a budget, but if I can do something to help people in our district, then I'm doing my job to a degree."
Rep. McCombie said the higher income limit set in the bill isn't high enough to hurt cities and schools that depend on the taxes collected.
"I'm a real-estate appraiser so I understand — and also as a former mayor understand -- what assessed values do for communities and townships and our schools," she said, "and this was really a very conservative move, so it wouldn't really impact the bottom line to hurt municipalities and schools.
"And that's why I felt the 60 (thousand) and then the 65 (thousand) was better than some of those that might go all the way to 75,000. Because that really would have an impact."