New law lifts three-year waiting period for residency requirements

Disabled veterans and military service members living in New Castle County will receive some relief on their property taxes thanks to a new law introduced only a few months ago.

On Friday, April 6, during a ceremony at the VFW Bailey-Brennan-Chandler Post 5892 in Hockessin, county Executive Matt Meyer signed Ordinance 18-018.

The new ordinance waives the three-year county residency requirement for veteran applicants who are totally and permanently disabled in the line of duty.

According to a press release from New Castle County, veterans are already provided partial property tax exemptions for seniors and disabled property owners whose incomes are $50,000 or less after they live in Delaware for three years. 

Income-eligible disabled military service members and veterans who have a permanent service-connected disability get a property tax exemption of $37,000 of the assessed value of their principal residence, with an additional exemption of up to $42,000 based on the severity of their permanent disability, the release states.

Last week, county council unanimously voted 13-0 and passed the legislation, sponsored by councilmembers Janet Kilpatrick, District 3, and Penrose Hollins, District 4, that waives the three-year residency requirement for income-eligible military service members and veterans who have experienced a total and permanent service-connected disability.

This makes them immediately eligible for this disability property tax exemption when they purchase a primary residence in Delaware, the release states.

The new legislation came about in early January, when Hockessin resident and disabled veteran Jamie Frei approached Kilpatrick about getting a tax abatement for his property.

“When the county executive got involved, he said, ‘Why are we doing this for one person? Let’s look at what we could do for the whole group of disabled veterans,’” Kilpatrick said.

Frei, a US Marine who served from July 2004 to August 2011, said it was very fulfilling to see the legislation come together.

“It was a long process, but all I really did was email one person, and it happened,” he said. “Now that I know it’s not just for me but for all veterans makes it even better.”

During Friday’s signing ceremony, Meyer called enabling the new legislation an important moment for the county.

“There are certain things in this job that are really about the dignity of who we are as individuals, and who we are as a community,” Meyer said.

He added that Frei – who was injured in 2006, spent a month in a coma, and was deployed to Afghanistan in 2009 as part of a reserve aviation unit – was an example of the many veterans in the county, state, and across the country, who sacrificed for our nation’s freedom.

“It’s very important that we recognize them for that,” Meyer said.

Paraphrasing Dr. Martin Luther King, Hollins – himself a five-year veteran – said that any day is a good day to do something right.

“Today is a very good time to do what is right, and we here in New Castle County are doing what’s right,” he said.

To view the legislation, visit nccde.org/DocumentCenter/View/22347.