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Belvedere halts new tax breaks for historic properties

Belvedere will temporarily stop doling out tax breaks to newly designated historic homes while it considers imposing conditions to ensure owners actually use the savings for its intended purpose: to rehabilitate, restore and maintain their properties.

California’s Mills Act program, which is administered locally by participating cities, can help preserve and revitalize communities for its tax incentives on historic buildings. In Belvedere in particular, it can also be a boon to homeowners, where nine of the 11 participating historic properties have assessed values of more than $3 million.

Three homes valued at more than $7 million, about 10 times California’s median home price, have seen 70% annual tax reductions, from more than $70,000 a year to about $20,000. That amounts to more than $250,000 per home over the first five years and about half a million over the 15-year enrollment period.

While some cities have assessment caps or require long-term renovation and maintenance plans from owners, Belvedere has neither. And while state law requires inspections every five years to ensure compliance, officials say they haven’t done that either.

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