Homeowners in Brookhaven could benefit from property tax savings beginning in 2020 as city leaders look to double the city’s homestead exemption over the next five years. The city is also seeking to significantly increase property tax relief for eligible senior citizens and those living with disabilities to address housing affordability, according to officials.

Mayor John Ernst introduced, and the council approved a resolution at the City Council’s March 12 meeting to increase the city’s homestead tax from the current $20,000 to $40,000 by 2025.

Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst.

Residents age 65 and older and those with disabilities who make less than $15,000 a year are eligible for an additional $14,000 exemption. Under the city’s resolution, that $14,000 would jump to $160,000 over the next five years, or at an annual increase of $29,200, Ernst said.

If approved by the state legislature, the proposed tax relief legislation will then be placed on Brookhaven’s Nov. 5 ballot for voters to decide.

“We’re taking a stair-step approach to double our homestead exemption over five years and for the average homeowner that means a savings of almost $53 in property taxes a year,” Ernst said in an interview.

For senior citizens and those with disabilities who qualify, the savings would be significant and even wipe out for most any payment of city property taxes, Ernst said.

There are 724 of the 852 properties that are currently eligible for the senior/disabled exemption, he said. “In the end, 85 percent of those [seniors and disabled] who qualify would no longer have to pay city property taxes,” he said.

For the remaining homeowners currently receiving the senior/disabled exemption, the average city property tax reduction would be $189.98 annually once fully implemented after five years, he said.

When Brookhaven was incorporated in 2012, the city adopted DeKalb County’s property tax exemption limits for homesteaded properties and for seniors and disabled residents. Homestead exemptions must be applied for through DeKalb County and are not available for rental or commercial properties. A basic homestead is an exemption that can be claimed against the taxable value of a home as long as it is owned by the resident and is their primary residence.

The proposed property tax reductions for seniors, the disabled and homestead properties will lower city revenue by $1.6 million over five years, according to city officials.

The city’s Nov. 5 ballot will include the election of mayor and City Council Districts 1 and 3 seats. Ernst is seeking reelection as mayor, Jones is seeking reelection for District 1 and Councilmember Bates Mattison is seeking reelection for District 3.