By BILL MILLIGAN
For the Call
Nearly 150 south county residents Saturday attended a caucus in support of a legislative effort to cap property tax increases at five percent for Missouri residents over age 65.
Dubbed the Homestead Preservation Act, or House Bill 517 would also include generic drugs in the state’s prescription plan for senior citizens. Currently seniors who participate in the prescription drug plan can receive only brand name drugs.
Rep. Jim Lembke, R-Concord, told the crowd the bill enjoys bi-partisan support in Jefferson City, but local Democratic state representatives were not present at last Saturday’s caucus at Tesson Ferry Library.
“Tax reassessments have recently been mailed to property owners across the state,” said House Speaker Catherine Hanaway, R-West County. “The average reassessment is about 15-percent. That far outpaces inflation.”
Hanaway said Democrats are trying to split the prescription drug plan away from the tax relief plan and pressuring Republicans to make them two bills.
“We won’t get tax relief for senior citizens unless there is something the Governor (Bob Holden) wants in the bill,” Hanaway said. She credited House Republicans Walt Bivins, Oakville; Jim Avery, Affton; Lembke and Sen. Anita Yeckel for supporting the tax relief and prescription package.
“Schools won’t lose any money because of this bill,” Hanaway said. “They will just see funding increased at a lower rate than they desire.”
Hanaway and local Republican elected officials credited County Councilman John Campisi for bringing the need for tax relief to light in Jefferson City.
“St. Louis County tax payers get hit three times by the current tax code,” Hanaway said. “First, their assessment goes up. Then, those assessments are used to calculate the state’s foundation formula for school funding. But because most of the county schools are hold harmless districts, taxpayers see none of that funding back in local schools.
“If you’re tired of that kind of tax system, get on the bus with John Campisi,” Hanaway said.
Campisi has taken several bus loads of constituents who are concerned about increasing taxes to Jefferson City to lobby for reforms in the past. He plans another this spring. To receive more information about the tax relief bus tours, call Campisi at 615-5442.