By: Kasey Dunnavant, Columbia Missourian
The Boone County Commission will hold public hearings regarding the senior property tax freeze at 1:30 p.m. on April 18 at the Roger B. Wilson Boone County Government Center, 801 E. Walnut St. and also 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 9 at Ashland City Hall, 101 W. Broadway. These forums come after Boone County voters approved a senior property tax freeze on the municipal election ballot Tuesday, April 2nd.

Residents who are ages 62 and older, own or have legal or equitable interest in residence and are liable to pay real property taxes in Boone County are eligible to apply for the freeze, according to the bill. The recent vote has implications for local school districts and other taxing entities. Columbia Public Schools, for example, estimates the tax freeze could cost anywhere between 10% and 20% of district revenue, according to previous Missourian reporting.

Boone County Commissioner Janet Thompson said the impact the tax freeze could have on local schools is one concern that has been brought to her attention. Another concern she’s heard is that there is confusion about what kinds of properties will be subject to the tax freeze. Thompson said these concerns, along with others, may be addressed at the commission’s hearing. She also noted that the commission would have to do work outside the hearing to prepare for the implementation of the freeze.

“Maybe we’re going to need to look at the data for a period of time to see what the impact on the schools, and the libraries, and the fire districts is because we don’t want to do something that causes irreparable harm to those entities,” Thompson said.

So far, the commission has begun drafting a policy for the program, according to a Boone County Commission news release. The policy will not be approved until the end of the 2024 legislative session, May 17, since legislation regarding the senior property tax freeze is still being debated in the Missouri General Assembly. Boone County Presiding Commissioner Kip Kendrick said there are parts of the program that are set in state statute and cannot be deviated from.

“We’re trying to strike that balance in making sure that we’re operating within state statute, but if and where there is some flexibility, allowing the public comment to help guide our decision-making,” Kendrick said.

Thompson said this is the first public hearing of several that will be held to discuss what the policy will look like in a collaborative way.

“This is like any public hearing,” Thompson said. “You have to listen and then take that into account. You have to work through what you’re getting and see if that causes people to have good ideas. Good ideas don’t just come from government; good ideas come from everybody.”