Property tax freeze for seniors gets struck down in St. Louis County Council

Published: Jul. 18, 2023 at 10:28 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - The St. Louis County Council is striking down a bill to freeze property taxes for those 62 and older.

The council turned down the plan in a four to three vote on Tuesday.

Seniors would still have had to pay property taxes, but the amount wouldn’t have increased each year.

Supporters of this bill, say it would help seniors on a fixed income stay in their homes longer.

Those against were worried that local schools would face a slash in funding due to lower tax revenue.

Barbara Lyon has lived in Ballwin for decades.

Lyon says her property tax bill has doubled and it’s more than she can afford.

“I’m living pension check to pension check,” Lyon says. “The property taxes have skyrocketed so high, I don’t know what I’m going to do because I don’t want to go into debt. I’m very upset. They need to do something to help seniors that are struggling.”

One of the big issues by St. Louis County Council members who were both for and against this bill, is that it was one size fits all, meaning a senior with a million dollar home would get a freeze just like someone in a $100,000 home.

David Stokes with the Show-Me Institute has been against this bill from the start.

He says the county bill had to follow what Jefferson City passed.

But in the City of St. Louis, the bill outlines that aldermen want to target certain seniors, meaning if you’re above a certain property value you wouldn’t get the tax freeze.

“They are doing more than what’s allowed by the state legislation and that’s improper,” Stokes says. “We’ll see if people oppose it for that reason in the city. If it passes, we’ll see if there’s lawsuits. I don’t believe the city has the authority to do what they’re planning on doing.”

There are other things that can help Missouri seniors.

The Hancock Amendment limits how state and local governments can pass and raise taxes.

Stokes says more entities can roll tax rates back even more than they’re required to to help.

“It relates to this issue in that the Hancock Amendment requires that as assessments go up, that tax rates go down to off set that assessment increase so that people don’t get hit by very large tax increases,” Stokes says.

Supporters of this senior tax freeze in St. Louis County have said they will try to put it on the ballot, which would require them to get signatures from five percent of the population that voted in the last county election.