About 20,000 more properties in Henrico County are now eligible for a tax abatement program the county’s Board of Supervisors voted to amend on Tuesday.
As part of an initiative to improve aging neighborhoods and highway corridors, the county is aiming to encourage property owners to renovate older or dilapidated homes, stores, hotels and warehouses by offsetting whatever taxes would be owed on the improvements.
Director of Finance Ned Smither said there are currently 145 residential properties with a deferment, saving those property owners a total of about $85,000 on their taxes annually.
In conjunction with another ordinance approved Tuesday, the changes will also make it easier for the county to compel the owners of derelict buildings to renovate or demolish them by reducing or eliminating associated fees.
“We’re trying to boost up incentives for people to reinvest in their homes and build up neighborhoods,” Smither said. “In general, we are seeing more commercial and residential properties that need to be more dressed up.”
For residential properties, the county is extending the term of the tax abatement from seven years to 10 years on properties that are more than 26 years old and have an assessed value below $300,000.
Previously, the program was only available for residential property owners with homes assessed for less than $250,000 and older than 40 years.
The changes will also expand the number of commercial and industrial properties eligible for the tax break by lowering a threshold for improvements to 40 percent of the assessed value, rather than 50 percent.
The changes will allow eligible property owners to apply for the tax break after they’ve begun renovations. “We’re trying to make it more user-friendly,” Smither said of the program.
About 57,000 properties - 54 percent of all parcels in the county - will be eligible to apply for the tax break.
In a work session earlier Tuesday evening, Henrico Housing Specialist Eric Leabough gave a presentation to the board explaining how a partnership with the Maggie Walker Community Land Trust could help advance the county’s policy goals.
The county last year created Leabough's job and dedicated $2 million to establish a special fund for a new community revitalization initiative.
In her own presentation to the board, Laura Lafayette, CEO of the Richmond Association of Realtors and land trust chairwoman, praised the county for focusing on housing affordability.
“We all know that housing is foundational,” she said. “All of life’s positive outcomes are best met if people are stably housed. That’s what we’re hoping to accomplish.”
Henrico, in partnership with the nonprofit trust, could leverage money from the fund to acquire and maintain properties affordable for low- or middle-income households.
“They have an established record. The folks there will be a great resource for the county,” said County Manager John Vithoulkas.
Vithoulkas said a refined partnership proposal will be presented to the board this spring.