Hollywood Park City Council members meeting Jan. 17 agreed to table discussion on possibly increasing the town’s property tax exemption from $5,000 to $10,000 for local homeowners age 65 and older.

Council members have spent time in recent meetings weighing whether to add tax relief for Hollywood Park’s senior citizens through increasing the $5,000 exemption or freezing property taxes for homeowners age 65 and over.

Providing numbers and projections given in past council meetings, city Treasurer Fred Timmons said the city could face as much as a $25,000 reduction in projected property tax revenue in fiscal year 2024 with a $10,000 senior tax exemption, especially if there were a full-blown recession and if local property values stay flat or decline.

Timmons added a senior tax exemption would affect slightly more than 550 Hollywood Park homeowners age 65 and over. Timmons said with a revenue loss, the town likely would have to consider raising property taxes to offset the decrease.

“[City] expenses will also go up because of inflation,” Timmons said. "It’s a crap shoot with finding revenue.”

Mayor Sean Moore said Hollywood Park relies on residential property taxes and does not have many options when it comes to supplementing revenue streams.

Moore also a tax exemption could help local senior citizens to an extent, but in the long run, less revenue could prompt the city to reduce basic services and/or raise taxes on all residents.

Additionally, Moore said a drop in revenue could hamper the city’s long-range efforts toward considering and developing a comprehensive road improvement program.

"If you start hamstringing yourself, you start talking about things like cutting personnel,” he added.

Describing the mayor’s concerns as “fear mongering,” Council Member Todd Kounse said the city staff’s projected revenue loss would not result in a budget deficit and that a tax exemption’s effects should not trigger draconian moves with Hollywood Park’s budget or operations.

"I don’t think it’s accurate to say it’s a loss. It’s a loss to potential gain,” Kounse said.

Council Member Glenna Pearce said she understands the city’s worries about a tax exemption's potential effect on their budget but that some residents deserve additional tax relief.

"I think we’re all on the same page that we want to stay solvent and fiscally healthy, but it’s on us to also look out for our residents,” she added.

Council Member Wendy Gonzalez agreed with Moore that, while some tax relief is ideal, it may not be worthwhile given economic downturns and inflation.

"I don't think it’d be smart to put us in a more difficult situation with uncertainty surrounding the economy,” she said.

Council Member Chester Drash said he, too, understands the needs of local senior citizens but expressed wariness about the effectiveness of a $10,000 tax exemption. He also encouraged his colleagues to weigh other long-term budgeting priorities, such as developing a citywide street improvement program.

"I’m concerned that we need to get our priorities in order,” he added.

Resident Shannon Sims, who has repeatedly lobbied the council for some type of additional property tax relief, urged city leaders to view a tax exemption's effects as an opportunity to maximize certain expenses and revenue sources and not as a possibility of reducing services or increasing someone else’s tax burden.

"I hope that in the budget you look at it closely and look harder at your needs and not just your wants,” Sims added.

Gonzalez moved to stay with the city’s current $5,000 senior tax exemption, but the council defeated that proposal by a 3-2 vote. Reaching no consensus on the tax relief matter, council members agreed to continue the discussion to their Feb. 21 meeting.