Senior citizens may have to brave cold for tax break

RICO Assessor's Office says Friendship Manor residents must apply in person

ROCK ISLAND, Illinois - Dozens of senior citizens may have to brave the cold tomorrow because of a new Rock Island County requirement.

They are residents at Friendship Manor applying for senior homestead exemptions. Friendship Manor's Development Director Jeff Condit said the manor used to be able to submit forms for residents, but now the county assessors says seniors must do it in person. 

The exemptions save residents about $500 each year. 

Friendship Manor said they were first told by the county assessor's office that they already missed the deadline to apply for 2017. Last week, they heard they had until the end of the year. 

Now they are scrambling to help save their residents' money.

"It's never been required before and nor is it required by statute," Condit said. "The chief assessor can determine the means by which he verifies the number that qualify and it does not require a visit, but he's demanding so."

On Thursday morning, they'll start busing 58 seniors to the Rock Island County building. 

The average age of those residents is 87 years, but three of the residents are more than 100 years old. 

"The risk of someone falling is just, it's incalculable for us. [It's] incomprehensible to us as to why this would take place," Condit said. "Anxiety does not go well for a super senior and this is creating plenty of it."

Condit said they've received call after call from concerned residents and their families. One person called about her mother, saying a bumpy ride on a bus would injure her spine. 

She said she'd call the assessors office asking for another option. 

But Chief County Assessor Larry Wilson wasn't there when Local 4 News went to the office. After a phone call, he declined to comment. 

Friendship Manor lost the exemption completely several years ago. 

After taking it to court, 2017 was the first year they were supposed to have it back. Condit said their fight will continue.

"That's what we do. We care for our residents physically, spiritually, nutritionally and even financially," Condit said. "So we're going to fight until there's no fight left."

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