St. Louis County Assessor says low-income elderly need property tax relief

BY PAUL HAMPEL • > 314-727-6234 Apr 16, 2012

PAGEDALE • St. Louis County Assessor Jake Zimmerman on Monday called for the passage of two bills in the state legislature that would provide property tax relief for elderly homeowners.

“We have people living on fixed incomes and those incomes don’t go up but their taxes do,” Zimmerman said at a press conference at Pagedale City Hall. “We’re talking about people who worked hard all their lives and through no fault of their own face losing their homes because of rising tax bills.”

Zimmerman was joined at the event by two fellow Democrats, State Representatives Scott Sifton, D-Affton, and Jill Schupp, D-Creve Coeur.

Sifton is sponsoring legislation that would reinstate the Homestead Preservation program, cut from last year’s state budget, which would reimburse part of the property taxes of low-income elderly homeowners.

Schupp is sponsoring a bill that would freeze property tax rates for lower-income persons ages 62 and older.

“If incomes are frozen, property taxes should be frozen, too,” Schupp said.

Zimmerman noted that property taxes have continued to rise in St. Louis County even as property values fell.

School districts account for about 60 percent of the average property tax bill in the county, and salaries account for about 80 percent of district budgets.

A recent Post-Dispatch analysis of state, federal and local education funding showed that total school revenue climbed in Missouri during the recession.

Average teacher pay in Missouri climbed by about 10 percent from 2008 to 2011.

Asked if pay freezes or pay cuts in the public sector would also help alleviate the tax burden on the elderly, Zimmerman said, “That is an issue for people to talk about with local school boards.”