By Mike Kruzman /

Hamburg Township officials called a special meeting that could affect property tax exemptions for residents.

The Board of Trustees held a special meeting, Thursday morning, to adopt new poverty exemption guidelines. The township in 2014 adopted a similar resolution which was then amended in 2018 with the presumption that it would be perpetual. Public Act 253 of 2020 changed this enough to require the board’s action.

In the past, the Board of Review had the opportunity, based on household income, to set whatever percentage of exemptions from property tax they saw fit. Hamburg Supervisor Pat Hohl said those numbers are now fixed, and need to be 100%, 50%, or 25%.

Previously, Boards of Review could declare “substantial and compelling reasons” to help a resident if they had additional hardships. That option is no longer available with exemptions being based strictly on income coming into the home.

The state has clarified that federal income levels should be used to be universal across the state. Trustee Patricia Hughes asked if they might not want to have a discussion about those levels at some point with property values being high in the township with many receiving social security. Hohl said they could, but in past discussions, the Board of Review and the assessor had not wanted to engage in subjective decisions and thus used state guidelines.

The Board of Trustees voted unanimously to accept the new guidelines.