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St. Louis Board of Aldermen freezes property taxes for seniors

Board of Alderman President Megan Green presides over a meeting
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
The St. Louis Board of Aldermen on Friday passed a property tax freeze for senior homeowners.

A portion of property taxes for senior homeowners in St. Louis will be frozen, thanks to a bill passed Friday by the Board of Aldermen.

The board voted 11-0 to pass the bill. Alderman Joe Vollmer abstained. It freezes a portion of property taxes for city residents who are 62 or older and eligible for Social Security with homes worth $500,000 or less.

“This is an important bill to keep money in the pockets of our city’s seniors,” said 1st Ward Alderwoman Anne Schweitzer, who sponsored the bill.

A spokesperson for Mayor Tishaura Jones said that the bill is vital to help seniors stay in their homes and that she will sign it in the coming weeks.

The bill is the latest effort by municipal leaders across Missouri to provide seniors property tax relief after Gov. Mike Parson signed a bill allowing municipalities to pass legislation to freeze property taxes for seniors this spring.

St. Charles County leaders approved a version of a property tax freeze this year for residents 62 and older.

St. Louis County Council members also passed a version of a senior property tax freeze after months of debate and failed efforts. The county freeze only applies to seniors in homes worth $550,000 or less, those 67 and older and only lasts five years. While the county passed the bill, Democrats on the council criticized the bill, noting that it could take funding away from schools and services.

But the city legislation only freezes the portion of property taxes that goes to the city, about 20% of the total amount of property taxes a resident has to pay.

“Things like the schools, the Zoo Museum District, they really rely on real estate, property taxes for their budgets,” Schweitzer said. “So we wanted to have a bill that again was helpful to seniors but didn't hurt these incredibly necessary taxing districts.”

Schweitzer said the bill will allow seniors to save the money they would have paid the city and use it for other necessities.

“We know seniors who are on fixed incomes, every single dollar matters,” Schweitzer said. “This $50 to $75 or more that's able to stay in their pockets is money they can spend on groceries or medication on anything else they might want to spend their money on.”

In other business, Alderwoman Shameem Clark Hubbard introduced a bill that would use a portion of federal coronavirus relief funds to create a fund for tenants forced to relocate if the property they’re renting is condemned because of a landlord’s negligence.

Alderman Rasheen Aldridge introduced a bill requiring the board to approve the use of surveillance technologies before the city makes any plans to implement them. It also would require the board to hold a public hearing before any surveillance policies are enacted.

Another bill introduced by Aldridge would give the mayor, aldermen, clergy, Detention Facilities Oversight Board members, judges and attorneys access to the St. Louis City Justice Center. Oversight board members have argued that city leaders have made it difficult to investigate jail conditions.

Oversight board members took their first tour of the jail last week after more than 10 detainees have died over the past few years. Another detainee died Sunday in what public safety officials described as an apparent suicide.

Chad is a general assignment reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.