KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It appears Jackson County seniors will have to wait to see property tax relief available after a new Missouri law took effect.
Seniors were interested in the Jackson County Legislature meeting Monday and whether an ordinance proposed by Republican Legislator Sean Smith would pass.
The ordinance is related to Missouri Senate Bill 190, which was signed into law by Republican Gov. Mike Parson. The new Missouri law freezes property taxes for seniors 62 and older — but counties have to implement it.
Smith’s ordinance would have implemented the law for the 2023 tax season, but it failed by a 8-1 vote in the legislature Monday.
“I was like, ‘Why? What’s the delay?” Kansas City and Jackson County resident Mary White said in an interview with FOX4 Tuesday when asked what her reaction was to the legislature’s move.
“We need the help now. We’re already now behind in our taxes, and each day is a penalty and interest and all that. After the first month, you’ve lost your house.”
White sat down for an interview Tuesday with fellow senior Mary Ann Jones at The Don Bosco Centers.
“Well, I thought that was really a shame because they’ve been talking about that now for several years,” Jones said.
Democratic Jackson County Legislator Manny Abarca has questions about the Missouri bill that was signed into law though.
“Because the way that the state law was drafted, the lack of information either makes us creative or creates barriers that will have the law challenged if we implement it wrong,” he told FOX4 Tuesday.
At first, Abarca supported Smith’s ordinance. At the end of Monday’s County Legislature meeting, he voted against it though.
“That’s primarily because the General Counsel said that it wasn’t within the law, and that if we implemented it, we were going to face initial challenges,” he continued.
“So it’s, to me, not fair to tell taxpayers you have this ability, and then a court says, ‘No you don’t,’ and it’s ping ponging back and forth.”
White told FOX4 she doesn’t want to lose her house, so she’d rather sell it if those are her final two options.
“This is my 38th year, so it’s been my only home for a long time,” she continued. “I’m kind of used to it, and when I go, I don’t want to have to go because I have to. I want to go because I’m ready to go.”
FOX4 reached out to Cass County Collector Chris Molendorp on Tuesday as well. Leaders in his county are dealing with this similar issue.
“The County Commission has passed a resolution indicating their desire to offer a property tax freeze on senior citizen’s homesteads,” he said in an email.
“So I will be administering the new program. In fact, I am meeting with two senior citizens homes associations over the next few weeks — Pickering Place in rural Belton and Eastern Hills in Harrisonville. We’re going to be proactive in communicating with seniors about the availability of the property tax freeze.”
Molendorp also said he didn’t think it would be possible for a county to implement Senate Bill 190 for the 2023 tax season.
In Jackson County, Abarca said another ordinance, which he’s a cosponsor on, would implement the bill into county law in the 2024 tax season — not in 2023.