After Missouri lawmakers passed SB190 allowing counties to freeze property taxes for seniors eligible for Social Security, officials are considering how to implement it in Warren County.
Warren County Commissioners have started the discussion to implement Missouri Senate Bill 190, which would allow the county to freeze property taxes for senior citizens.
SB190 allows counties to grant property tax credits to eligible taxpayers.
It says an “eligible taxpayer” is a person eligible for Social Security retirement benefits. The bill is ambiguous as to exactly what that means.
But the commissioners said there are issues with the bill they are hoping are clarified.
“It’s just all over the board,” Presiding Commissioner Joe Gildehaus told the assembled crowd.
Some of those issues revolve around who specifically is eligible.
“You know teachers aren’t eligible, Railroad people aren’t eligible, supposedly, because they don’t pay into social security,” Gildehaus said.
“We were hoping that they would get some of these questions answered for us next year before we would try to implement something,” Warren County Collector Julie Schaumberg said.
Five counties, including St. Charles County, have already implemented their own legislation.
“The other counties who have already adopted it have answered those questions in their legislation,” resident Bev Ehlen said in response.
Ehlen led a group of Warren County seniors who attended the Sept. 21 commission meeting to demand commissioners implement the property tax credit.
“We can define the age in our ordinance or resolution,” Ehlen said. “ And then we can also determine the date that it goes into effect.”
“I don’t think anybody is against it,” Gildehaus said. “It’s just how we’re going to implement it to make it work to go forward.”
That didn’t mollify the crowd, though.
“We want to work on it, too,” one member of the crowd told commissioners. “All of us are here because we want to work on it.”
Gildehaus said there would be more discussions about the issue.
But the assembled crowd wanted more than just discussion.
“Let’s show people that Warren County is committed to doing the right thing to try to help and start building a plan,” another member of the crowd said to the commissioners. “It might have to be tweaked in the future. But when people hear you say we want to wait and see what somebody does, they’re hearing ‘we don’t really want to commit to this and we’re going to really take our time.’ That’s not what the people want to hear. Let’s be committed, be firm and really get going with it. I know we can all find a way to work together.”
Commissioners did agree to place the issue on the Oct. 21 agenda, and said they would invite other taxing bodies, including the school, fire, and ambulance districts, to participate in that discussion.
“We’re all learning about this,” Gildehaus said.
About the author: Jason Koch is the editor of The Warren County Record, and covers local news and government for the newspaper. He has won multiple awards from both the Indiana and Illinois APME and from the Illinois Press Association. He can be reached at 636-456-6397 or at email@example.com