KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A measure moving through the Missouri Legislature is aimed at freezing property taxes for seniors 65 years of age and older.
Missouri Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer (R-Parkville) proposed the provision.
“I hear a lot from seniors in my district who say, 'Look, I’m living on a fixed income and my home is my biggest asset, it’s my nest egg, I’ve saved my entire life, I’ve paid off my loans on my home and then the government comes in and doubles or triples my property tax assessment in a single assessment cycle,'" Luetkemeyer said.
Gail McCann Beatty, Jackson County's director of assessment, said the measure is a homestead exemption, which she supports.
"If we can get a homestead exemption for our senior citizens, I think that would be fabulous," Beatty said. "Our seniors spend 30-40 years in their homes, they get their homes paid off and then they have that tax bill left. Many of them are on fixed incomes and it is difficult for them to pay those bills."
Luetkemeyer's measure comes at a time when some people in Jackson County are concerned about an increase in property values.
Beatty said a 30% increase is an average across the county that extends over a two-year period.
"If you go and look at Johnson County or Wyandotte County who actually reassess every year, if you add their last two years, we are right in the ballpark as to where they were over that last two years," Beatty said.
She added the COVID-19 pandemic's impact on the housing market is a reason for the increase in property values.
Beatty's office is trying to educate people on the assessment process with a videoas well as meetings for people to learn more about the increase.
The next meeting is scheduled for 5:30-7 p.m. Wednesday, April 5, at the Mid Continent Public Library (North Independence 317 W 24 Highway, Independence, Missouri, 64050).
But increasing costs concern organizations like The Kansas City Shepherd's Center, a nonprofit that serves senior adults.
"They are being priced out of their home, and right now that’s a crisis because we don’t have enough services for older adults," said Janet Baker, executive director at the center.
Residents like Janie Flynn are then left bracing for the bill.
"You have to find a way to pay it, and fortunately, everyone once in a while, I can dip into something for things like that, but I try not to," Flynn said.
Luetkemeyer said his measure could go into effect Aug. 28 if lawmakers approve and the governor signs off.