St. Louis County Council hears input on senior property tax freeze bill

Published: Jul. 11, 2023 at 6:27 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS COUNTY (KMOV) - On Tuesday, the St. Louis County Council had a Committee of the Whole meeting to discuss council bill 114, which would allow St. Louis County to take part in the Senior Tax Relief program the state of Missouri recently approved.

Gov. Mike Parson recently signed a bill that would authorize counties in the state to freeze property taxes for homeowners over the age of 62, meaning it would keep the taxes the same each year you live in that home.

Marsha Schuman has lived in her house in Creve Coeur for the last 33 years and says seniors need the relief.

“This is truly scary,” Schuman says. “This is something that makes you wonder can I take a vacation, how many times can I see my children. This is scary because you don’t know if your money is going to run out, no matter how much precaution you took.”

For the last few years, Schuman says she’s worked with state representatives to try to get a property tax freeze for seniors.

“If the taxes keep going up and younger people are able to get a raise or become an entrepreneur or find a new job, what are we supposed to do when there isn’t any change in our income but the expenses are going up,” Schuman says.

David Stokes, the director of municipal police at the Show-Me Institute, is against the senior tax freeze.

Despite it being what he calls a well-intentioned bill, Stokes says it could have a negative long-term effect.

“This bill is every much a tax increase on non-senior citizens as it is a tax freeze for senior citizens,” Stokes says.

Not only does Stokes say it will lead to disparities, but he says it could also become problematic as property tax initiatives are put on ballots in the future.

“IF seniors are suddenly exempted from that, local governments are still going to have the same pressure to fund local services but you’re going to have a large chunk of the population, and that amount varies by county, that’s not eligible for that and not going to pay those tax increases as approved by voters so more of the burden is going to fall on non-senior citizens,” Stokes says.

Schuman says the price of property taxes often means seniors have to give up food or medicine to find the money to pay their taxes.

“We just wanna stay in our houses,” Schuman says. “We don’t want to be uprooted. We want to go ahead and live in a home, not a nursing home.”

At the committee meeting Tuesday, many council members said they would support the bill but had questions about the implementation they wanted answered first.

During the County Council meeting on Tuesday, it was decided to table the vote until next week.