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County Commission implements senior property tax freeze

The Boone County Government Building during a rain storm on March 7, 2024.
Rebecca Smith
The Boone County Government Building during a rain storm on March 7, 2024.

The Boone County Commission implemented a senior property tax freeze at its Thursday meeting after voters approved the freeze April 2.

Eligible seniors must be 62 years old, own or have legal or equitable interest in a residence and must be liable to pay property taxes in Boone County. The freeze can only be applied to seniors’ primary residences, Presiding Commissioner Kip Kendrick said.

The tax freeze will be applied as a credit on their property taxes, he said. The assessed value of their property will continue to go up, and the credit amount will be the difference between the senior’s 2024 assessed value and the new value of the current year.

Two items that eligible taxpayers will continue to have to pay for under the freeze are the state’s blind pension fund, which provides assistance for blind Boone County residents, and any bonds approved by voters. Both are required under the Missouri Constitution, Kendrick said.

Rep. Cheri Toalson Reisch, R-Hallsville, was at the meeting and expressed her disapproval of the two exemptions, saying she felt that the commission was “deceiving the public.” Kendrick said he looked at seven counties that implemented a senior tax freeze, and all of them included exemptions for the blind pension fund and voter approved bonds.

Toalson Reisch previously gathered signatures for an initiative that would have put a full senior property tax freeze on the ballot, according to past Missourian reporting. She told the commission she intends to continue collecting signatures because of the exemptions they granted. Reisch announced her bidfor District 2 Commissioner in March, challenging incumbent Janet Thompson.

Other exceptions to the freeze include improvements to a home and if the home is annexed into a different taxing jurisdiction. If either of these occur, the initial rate will be increased.

The window for taxpayers to apply for the tax freeze for 2024 is July 1 through Oct. 1. Applications will be required annually, Kendrick said.

The legislature this year passed an updated bill clarifying some of the provisions of the tax credit. The commissioners previously declined to implement the policy in November 2023 because of concerns about how vague the language was.

If the commission had waited for Gov. Mike Parson to sign the new legislation, which would not take effect until August, the window for application would only be about one month.

“If we don’t implement this today and we wait until it becomes effective law, then we are putting seniors into a very difficult position,” Kendrick said.

District 1 Commissioner Justin Aldred added that he thinks the commission is obligated to see the tax freeze through because of the voters’ approval.

Kraft Heinz tax break

On a separate tax issue, the commission also voted to approve a Chapter 100 bond agreement that will give Kraft Heinz a 75% abatement on the property taxes for $49 million of equipment for updates on Columbia’s Oscar Mayer facility.

Rob Bennett, Columbia’s Kraft Heinz plant manager, was at the meeting. Thompson spoke directly to him when she thanked him for his leadership and said the loss of the Oscar Mayer jobs would be “devastating for families.”

Olivia Mizelle is a student reporter at KBIA
The Columbia Missourian is a community news organization managed by professional editors and staffed by Missouri School of Journalism students who do the reporting, design, copy editing, information graphics, photography and multimedia.
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