By: Rep. Cheri Toalson Reisch
There has been a lot of dialogue surrounding Senate Bill 190 that went into effect August 28, 2023. These are my thoughts, while others may see things differently.
SB 190 authorizes County Commissions to vote to freeze people who are 62 or older who live in their own home from increased real estate taxes. If a Commission takes no action, a referendum or initiative petition can be signed by 5% of the people who voted in the November 2020 Election. Until recently, the Boone County Commission took no action.
Last year the Commission came out with a statement that the language was flawed, vague, and ambiguous and would take a wait-and-see approach and hope that the General Assembly would clarify the meaning. With the Senate having a meltdown, I am not holding my breath for a legislative fix. In August 2023, when I saw the Commission would take no action, I began the petition process to try to obtain almost 4600 Boone County Registered Voters to put the question on the August or November 2024 ballot to let the voters decide. It would take 50% plus 1 to pass.
Some questions that have arisen are a) What if I am on a different retirement than Social Security. Scholars have interpreted this that if you are age eligible for SS, which is currently 62, you would qualify b) what if one spouse is under 62?
As long as one spouse is 62, and the person who is 62 has their name on the deed, they would qualify c) what if my property is in a Trust? Again, scholars are interpreting this if the Trust is in the name of and for the benefit of the person 62 or older and living in the home. There are other questions but there is not enough space here for all of them.
On January 23, 2024, the Commission voted to place the tax freeze question on the April 2024 ballot. “Shall the County of Boone exempt senior citizens from certain increases in the property tax liability due on such senior citizens’ primary residences?”
My concern is that the wording says, “certain” taxes, where as my Petition says, “all” taxes. “Shall the County of Boone, Missouri exempt senior citizens from increases in the property tax liability to all of the taxing authorities due on such senior citizens’ primary residence? □ YES □ NO
They want to hold public hearings and decide how they will implement it instead of holding hearings first and letting the voters know how they plan to proceed before they place it on the ballot.
My concern is that they did NOT have to put it on the ballot and would therefore save election costs. Under the law, they have the authority to just vote to do it. As of this writing, 11 counties have passed some form of a tax freeze, while other counties have already begun the petition process.
Even if the April ballot issue passes, I plan to continue collecting signatures as it may help our senior citizens more overall. I can be reached at email@example.com or 573-696-2474.